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Liberty juggles lineup and routs Washington Mystics

Nayo Raincock-Ekunwe and Sugar Rodgers of the New

Nayo Raincock-Ekunwe and Sugar Rodgers of the New York Liberty tries to block out Asia Taylor of the Washington Mystics in game at Madison Square Garden on Sunday, July 16, 2017. Credit: Errol Anderson

On the one hand, the Liberty arrived for work at the Garden on Sunday leading the WNBA in rebounding and making other teams miss.

On the other hand, it arrived 10th in scoring, 11th in shooting percentage and 12th in bench production, and there are only 12 teams.

The Washington Mystics, meanwhile, arrived without the services of top-scoring forward Elena Delle Donne, who suffered an ankle sprain Friday night that likely will sideline her for Saturday’s All-Star Game, too.

The Liberty (9-9) dominated defensively and on the boards and even found some offense, trouncing Washington, 85-55, to snap a two-game skid.

A little lineup tinkering helped the cause. Coach Bill Laimbeer started Bria Hartley at the point and Epiphanny Prince off the ball. Hartley, a North Babylon native, made the offense move faster and had 15 points. Sugar Rodgers went from starting to relieving at shooting guard and had 14.

“We gave it our best shot with having Piph and Sugar out there on the court at the same time,” Laimbeer said. “It just didn’t give us the pace of play that we were looking for, getting up and down a little more . . . We felt we needed to get more easy baskets. We were struggling offensively.”

Hartley hit a three-pointer and Kia Vaughn made three layups as the Liberty took a 15-6 lead.

“They told me to push the ball,” Hartley said, “but I think one of my best attributes is pushing the ball.”

Rodgers came in with 3:25 left in the first quarter. She fired up some instant offense, driving for two and nailing a pair of three-pointers. The Liberty led 30-14 after 10 minutes.

The margin swelled to 25 in the third quarter. Emma Meesseman had 19 points to lead Washington (11-9), which was outrebounded 46-30.

The East-leading Connecticut Sun comes to the Garden on Wednesday ahead of the All-Star break. Said All-Star forward Tina Charles, “I think that’s a true test just to see where we are.”

New York Sports