WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. — The losses have come in sizes small, medium and large, and they have come often for a Liberty team that was supposed to be much better than this.
The team has been hoping to make a second-half run at grabbing a playoff ticket, but it needs to start sprinting.
It didn’t happen Sunday at Westchester County Center. The Liberty fell behind by 23 points in the fourth quarter before making the final score respectable in a 97-87 loss to the Dallas Wings.
The Liberty went 22-12 and earned the third seed last season. Now, after dropping three straight and eight of the last nine, its record is 5-14.
“A little bit, for sure, coming off the season that we had last year,” said Bria Hartley, the point guard from North Babylon. “But this league is so good. You can’t take things for granted.”
The Liberty is 11th out of 12 in the WNBA standings, 4 1⁄2 games from the eighth and final playoff spot with 15 to play.
Can the Liberty still make that run?
“For sure,” Hartley said.
“Absolutely,” Amanda Zahui B. said.
Tina Charles, who led the Liberty with 26 points and nine rebounds, will need more scoring help for that to happen.
“We don’t have another double-digit scorer [by average],” coach Katie Smith said. “So yeah, we definitely need somebody [else] with the consistency.”
Point guard Skylar Diggins-Smith topped the Wings (10-8) with 32 points and 6-8 center Liz Cambage had 19 points and 12 rebounds.
Dallas lost to the Liberty, 94-89, on May 29. “We have gotten better collectively, and we learned from it,” Cambage said.
Dallas led 47-37 at halftime before Diggins-Smith and Cambage totaled 22 of the Wings’ 26 points in the third quarter. Dallas went up by 19 before taking a 73-60 lead into the fourth.
“It’s not surprising,” Charles said. “They’re really great players.”
Diggins-Smith scored 11 points in the first quarter as the Wings took a 30-22 lead. The Liberty never led and got outrebounded 40-30.
“We’ve just got to hold our heads up and be hopeful,” Charles said. “That’s all we can do.”
Notes & quotes: Hartley has switched Turkish teams for the WNBA offseason. She has a one-year deal with Fenerbahce in Istanbul, a EuroLeague team. “That’s the top league in Europe, playing against the best European players and the best American players,” Hartley said. “I just kind of want to prove myself on that stage.”