WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. — The Liberty had been finding new ways to lose close games, like yielding that four-point play by Connecticut Thursday with 0:00 showing on the clock. After dropping four of its first six by six points or less, this team knew it must find a way to win.
And it found a way Sunday at Westchester County Center.
Marissa Coleman went up from 24 feet away on the left side against her former Indiana team, and the ball swished through the net with 16.8 seconds left. Her tiebreaking three gave the Liberty a 78-75 win, snapping a two-game skid.
“We needed this win,” Coleman said. “We don’t want to get too far behind where we’re having to fight to get some wins towards the end of the season. So hopefully we can build from this.”
Sugar Rodgers nailed five threes and paced five double-figure scorers for the 3-4 Liberty with 16 points off the bench. Kelsey Mitchell scored 19 to lead a young Fever team that has now lost twice to the Liberty and is 0-8, the worst start in franchise history.
“We’re trying to stay positive,” said Mitchell, the second overall pick in the draft who sent up an air ball on a late three attempt for the tie.
Out of a timeout, Coleman took a pass from Kia Nurse and shot that dagger after playing for Indiana the previous four seasons.
“It was poetic justice for me,” Coleman said. “To hit it against my old team, you can’t really write a better storyline.”
The Fever went on a 12-2 run to grab a 71-68 lead in the fourth quarter. But Bria Hartley made a three to tie it with 2:06 left. Then the point guard from North Babylon drove for the lead with 1:11 to go.
“I think Bria is really comfortable in those situations,” coach Katie Smith said.
Mitchell went 1-for-2 with 58 seconds remaining to cut it to 73-72. Hartley drove for two more at 37 seconds. But rookie Victoria Vivians hit a three just 5.6 seconds later to tie it at 75.
“We knew it was one of those games that was sluggish,” said Tina Charles, who was held to 13 points. “It was going to be hard. Nothing was going to be going our way. But we just made sure that we stayed collectively together.”
Rodgers, who totaled three points over her previous two games after missing three with a sore knee, hit four threes and scored 13 in a 16-4 run that gave the Liberty a 66-59 advantage with 6:50 left.
“Being out there and feeling like myself,” Rodgers said, “it feels good.”