WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. — Indiana has been the only team keeping the Liberty from the bottom floor of the WNBA standings. But the Fever can still hope to climb out of the cellar after the Liberty turned in a fourth quarter to remember Saturday — and not in a good way.
The Liberty scored two points — two points! — in the final 10 minutes on the way to falling for a season-worst sixth straight time and being officially eliminated from playoff contention. Candice Dupree scored 25 to pace the Fever to a 68-55 win at Westchester County Center.
“It’s embarrassing,” Tina Charles said about that final period. “We’re a professional team. We should be able to score more than two points.”
Katie Smith’s team took 15 shots and missed them all, scoring only on two free throws. The two points matched the second fewest in the fourth quarter in league history. It was also just the eighth time a team failed to make a field goal in a quarter.
“It’s just a lack of effort, a lack of wanting to run plays hard and do the things that Katie has asked us to do,” Charles, who led the Liberty with 11 points and 10 rebounds, said.
The Liberty is 7-20 with seven games remaining. It won at least 20 and made the playoffs the previous three seasons.
“I remember saying last year, my first year in New York, ‘It’s my first season with 20 wins,’ ” Bria Hartley said. “I was really excited about it. Coming into this year, I had even higher expectations for the season. It’s been a rough season for us. But everything happens for a reason.”
The rebuilding Fever is 5-23 after claiming two straight — its first winning streak. It’s just 2 1/2 back of the 11th-place Liberty, which was missing injured guards Epiphanny Prince and Shavonte Zellous and lost center Kia Vaughn to a sprained ankle in the third quarter.
“We are still fighting,” Dupree said.
Smith said while the Liberty is basically the same team as last year, the league has gotten better and that her group may be in “a rut.”
“I truly believe if our effort had been consistently for 40 minutes that we would’ve possibly been in the playoffs,” Smith said. “I think we’re a very inconsistent ballclub and also undisciplined.”
Indiana trailed 53-51 after three, but it took its first lead at 54-53 on two free throws by Tiffany Mitchell with 7:58 left.
The last quarter turned out to be a 17-2 run. Hartley twice went 1-for-2 from the line, and that was it for the Liberty offense.
The offense was there early on, though. The defense, too.
The Liberty grabbed a 19-4 lead. It was 21-7 after one. Then it committed nine of its 20 turnovers in the second quarter and led just 35-31 at the break.
“We’re all evaluating everything, who’s going to be here, who’s going not to be here,” Smith said. “We’re all playing for jobs.”