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Liberty struggle with Sabrina Ionescu sidelined, lose big to Mercury

Amanda Zahui B #17 of the Liberty shoots

Amanda Zahui B #17 of the Liberty shoots from beyond the 3-point line during the second half of a game against the Phoenix Mercury at Feld Entertainment Center on August 02, 2020 in Palmetto, Florida. Credit: Getty Images/Julio Aguilar

BRADENTON, Fla. — Bria Hartley scored a career-high 27 points and the Phoenix Mercury beat the Liberty 96-67 on Sunday.

Hartley, who signed with the Mercury as a free agent after spending the last three seasons with the Liberty, was 10 of 18 shooting. Diana Taurasi had 18 points, nine assists, three steals and two blocks and Brittney Griner added 16 points for Phoenix (2-2).

Liberty point guard Sabrina Ionescu, the No. 1 pick in April's draft, did not play due to an ankle injury suffered in Friday's loss to the Atlanta Dream and is expected to miss a month.

Kia Nurse, who missed Friday's game due to an ankle injury of her own, led the Liberty with 16 points but made just 3 of 17 from the field. Layshia Clarendon added 12 points and Amanda Zahui B. scored 11.

Phoenix, which never trailed, led by as many as 16 in the first half and took a 41-27 lead into halftime. The Liberty used an 18-3 run to trim their deficit to 55-53 when Zahui B. hit a 3-pointer with two minutes left in the third quarter, but the Mercury scored 17 of the next 19 points to pull away for good.

The Liberty, which is 0-4 for the second consecutive season, shot just 24.7% (18 of 73) from the field, including 5 of 35 (14.3%) from 3-point range.

New York Sports