Finding minutes for Rebecca Allen hasn’t been easy for Bill Laimbeer, but the Australian forward showed the Liberty coach on Wednesday afternoon that she’s ready for more playing time.
The 6-2 athletic wing player scored 11 points on 5-for-11 shooting off the bench in the Liberty’s 86-62 win over the Atlanta Dream at Madison Square Garden.
“I’ve got to play my role, and my thing is to run the lanes hard and get the rebounds — I always try to get my offensive rebounds — and shoot the ball with confidence,” Allen said.
Allen was re-signed by the Liberty on June 21 after spending the first 12 games away from the WNBA while trying to earn a spot on the Australian Olympic team. When the team was finalized, Allen learned she didn’t make the cut. And while she admitted her disappointment, she also expressed excitement to play with the best in the WNBA.
“I guess the positive of not making the Australian team is that I’m here,” she said. “And I’m really happy being here with New York. I really like the coaches; I really like the team.
“It’s a place I’m going to get better. Playing against some of the best athletes in the WNBA is only going to make you a better athlete.”
She played in two games for the Liberty as a rookie last season, but a right knee injury ended her season.
It’s clear that Allen has the size, athleticism and instincts to handle the WNBA, and Laimbeer awarded her with 17:36 of court time against the Dream.
She did most of her damage in the second quarter, hitting a midrange jumper and a three-pointer on back-to-back possessions.
The Liberty bench was crucial in pulling away and allowing Laimbeer to rest starters Swin Cash and Carolyn Swords. Shavonte Zellous chipped in 11 points, while Amanda Zahui B (nine), Kiah Stokes (six), Adut Bulgak (six) and Brittany Boyd (four) also contributed.
After a third quarter during which the Liberty (16-6) stretched a 10-point halftime lead to a 65-42 advantage, Laimbeer was able to ride the bench to the win. Tina Charles, who scored a game-high 18 in the Liberty’s fourth straight win, was pleased with the output.
“I think our second unit’s doing great,” she said. “Bill really trusts them to increase the lead, to put the pressure on them. The first unit, we’re supposed to set the tone, and I think they’re doing a great job to follow after us.”
At the forefront of the effort was Allen, who looked mostly comfortable in the flow of the offense. More playing time will alleviate the growing pains, and Laimbeer seemed excited to get her more involved.
“Unfortunately she didn’t make the Olympic team, but to our benefit,” he said. “As you watch the game, you see the things that she can do. She’s very active. She’s always moving.
“It’s just a matter of getting her acclimated to how we do business.”