WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. — The Liberty had shown some impressive improvement, so much so that on Sunday at Westchester County Center, they had a shot at exceeding their win total for all of last season.
But they took a page out of the bad old days of 2018 and showed there’s more growing to do, such as bringing the effort every game. Las Vegas never trailed on the way to crushing the Liberty, 90-58. It was an unhappy ending to their four-game winning streak.
“We might’ve got ourselves beat today, anyways,” coach Katie Smith said. “I just wasn’t personally pleased with the effort that we had on both ends.”
The Liberty dropped to 7-8 after going 7-27 last season. Of course, they could’ve been dragging after their 3-0 road run against Atlanta, Seattle and Phoenix.
“We were trying to say we didn’t want to make that our excuse,” said Tina Charles, who had 13 points and eight rebounds. “But I want to say the way that the starting five had started that game, mentally, defensively or offensively, we were just out of it.”
The Liberty committed 20 turnovers that led to 24 points for the Aces and shot 29.7 percent, including 1-for-13 by Kia Nurse.
Kayla McBride hit five three-pointers and scored 24 points to lead Las Vegas (9-5). The Liberty also couldn’t contain Liz Cambage. The 6-8 tower of talent had 21 points and 11 rebounds.
“They’re a handful for everybody in the WNBA, so it’s not a surprise,” Nurse said.
The Liberty trailed by 14 after the first quarter, and the margin swelled to 18 at 35-17 in the second. Asia Durr triggered a 10-0 Liberty run with back-to-back three-pointers before the Aces regained control, taking a 44-32 lead into the break. Cambage scored eight points in the first 4:31 of the third quarter and the lead ballooned to 54-35.
“I don’t think we’re anywhere close to showing our full potential of how we can play and how connected we can be out there,” Cambage said. “So I was just ready to go out there and play.”
McBride scored seven points in the first 35 seconds of the fourth to make it 71-47.
“We didn’t match our effort like we did on the road,” Charles said.
Help is coming. The Liberty hope to have centers Amanda Zahui B. and Kiah Stokes and guards Bria Hartley and Marine Johannes available Friday in Chicago. They were playing in the EuroBasket tournament.
“It’ll be great to have everybody back, get them up to speed,” Smith said. “I hope it just gives us more firepower.”