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Good Afternoon

Much improved Seattle Storm dominates Liberty

Liberty guard Bria Hartley is defended by Storm

Liberty guard Bria Hartley is defended by Storm guard Sue Bird during a game at Westchester County Center on Tuesday. Credit: Kathleen Malone-Van Dyke

WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. — The Seattle Storm blew into Westchester County Center on Tuesday night as one of the WNBA’s most improved teams and blew out one of the most disappointing teams to date — the Liberty.

The Storm led by as many as 20 in the fourth quarter and claimed a 77-62 win. Seattle is tied for the league’s best record at 13-5.

The Liberty owned a 22-12 record last season. This season has reached the end of the first half and the bottom line has sagged to 5-12, with six losses by six or fewer points and six by double digits.

Katie Smith sounded exasperated. “We’re being very repetitive on what we’ve asked them to do,” the first-year head coach said. “ . . . At the end of the day, it’s just not a very disciplined basketball team.”

Breanna Stewart and Jewell Loyd scored 21 points apiece for Seattle. Syosset native Sue Bird had 11 assists.

North Babylon native Bria Hartley led the Liberty with 16 points, all in the second half. That included her 1,000th career point. Amanda Zahui B added 13 and Kia Vaughn had 10. Tina Charles shot 3-for-14 and scored eight points.

“Regardless of how things are going, we’ve got to make sure we stay together and make sure we’re positive,” Hartley said.

The Liberty shot 60 percent in the opening quarter and took a 19-16 lead. Then it shot 20 percent and committed six turnovers in the second quarter and got outscored 23-9. The Storm went on a 16-2 closing run that made it 39-28 at the break.

Loyd scored seven of her 11 third-quarter points in a 9-2 burst that opened it up to 53-36. The Liberty trailed 64-51 after three. “I think sometimes we get tied up in what other teams are doing,” Zahui B said, “instead of just staying focused on what we’re doing.”

Seattle coach Dan Hughes said the Liberty could “turn it around because when I look at their personnel, it’s a lot of the same as the third seed in our league a year ago.”

Smith agreed, saying, “Right now, we’re beating ourselves in a lot of games in a variety of ways. We’re not very consistent. If we decide as a unit that we’re done with this and we’re tired of it, there could be some good things.”

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