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Liberty lose to Seattle at Barclays Center

Storm forward Natasha Howard, right, defends Liberty center

Storm forward Natasha Howard, right, defends Liberty center Tina Charles, left, who looks to pass during the first half of a game Sunday at Barclays Center. Credit: AP/Kathy Willens

The Liberty took their act to an NBA arena for Sunday’s WNBA game. But that act at Barclays Center resembled the same turnover-filled one they had been putting on display at Westchester County Center and on the road, for that matter.

A season-high home crowd of 7,715 attended the Liberty’s lone regular-season appearance at Barclays, and the fans saw them commit 19 turnovers that led to 26 Seattle points.

The Storm defeated the Liberty, 84-69, at the third annual Unity Day game to promote social progress and equality. It was the fifth straight loss and eighth in nine games for the Liberty (8-15).

The Liberty had two starters out, Amanda Zahui B. (concussion) and Asia Durr (groin strain). Tina Charles had 20 of her 22 points in the first half and Bria Hartley finished with 17.

Alysha Clark shot 7-for-7 from the floor and scored 21 points for the Storm (14-11). Sami Whitcomb added 18.

After scoring 28 points in the second quarter to grab a 45-43 lead, the Liberty scored 24 in the second half.  They committed three turnovers in the first two minutes of the third quarter, and Seattle went on a 15-4 run to go up 58-49.

“Just stop turning the ball over,” Kia Nurse said. “It’s pretty simple.”

Seattle outscored the Liberty 27-12 in the third quarter for a 70-57 advantage, and the margin rose to 17.  Hartley fueled an entire 8-0 burst that cut the Liberty’s deficit to 74-65 with 5:59 remaining. They trailed by eight with 4:03 left but then stalled.

The Liberty stressed the need to clean up the flood of turnovers, and one player also stressed the need to move back to an NBA arena after this second season in Westchester.

“It’s a legendary organization,” Charles said. “This is a professional team. It’s not a shot at Westchester. But this organization is deserving to be playing in an arena the likes of Madison Square Garden and Barclays. It’s more than my personal opinion. It’s what needs to happen.”

Coach Katie Smith also cast a vote for Barclays, saying, “It would be amazing to play here and to call this home.”

“Hopefully we can continue to play here,” Hartley said. “We’ll see what happens next season.”

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