New York Liberty forward Breanna Stewart (30) and forward Jonquel...

New York Liberty forward Breanna Stewart (30) and forward Jonquel Jones (35) celebrate after Stewart scored a three-point basket during the second half of Game 2 of a WNBA basketball playoffs semifinal against the Connecticut Sun, Tuesday, Sept. 26, 2023, in New York. The Liberty won 84-77. Credit: AP/Mary Altaffer

The ultra-loud sound of music mixed with cheers kept filling sold-out Barclays Center and thousands of white towels were repeatedly waving from every direction. The Liberty fans at Games 1 and 2 of this WNBA semifinal series left an impression on the Sun.

“When we were in Minnesota … it was crazy loud there, too,” DeWanna Bonner said after Game 2, flashing back to the Sun's opening-round series. “But, I mean, nothing beats playing in this arena in Brooklyn. Those fans are amazing.

“But Connecticut, we’re coming home. So be home, baby. Be ready.”  

Indeed the best-of-five series now takes a turn up I-95 toward Mohegan Sun Arena for Game 3 on Friday night and Game 4 on Sunday afternoon.

The turn it took in front of 10,009 fans at Game 2 on Tuesday night, with the second-seeded Liberty rebounding to beat the third-seeded Sun and pull even at 1-1, still left both sides feeling good about the state of the semis heading for Connecticut.

“We weren’t happy with our last game,” Liberty coach Sandy Brondello said. “This is what professionals do. They prepare the best way and they come out and fight. We had to fight for 40 minutes, but we got the win. Now we’ll go to Connecticut and hopefully win some there.”

And the Sun’s reaction?

“We can’t be mad at the way we played,” Bonner said. “They played hard. They got a win. They’ve been one of the best teams in the league for a reason.”

Or as coach Stephanie White said:

“We came [to Brooklyn]; we got a split. Now we get an opportunity to go home.”

The Liberty looked much better in their 84-77 victory after Sunday’s 78-63, Game 1 stumble. They played with more pace, got to the basket, hit key threes and even displayed some effective zone defense, which they hadn’t tried in a while.

“It speaks a lot about how prepared we were and understanding whatever Coach was going to put us in, that’s what we were going to do,” Sabrina Ionescu said.

Now the question for the Liberty becomes: Can they build on Game 2 and put Connecticut on the brink of elimination, and without the energy push from the crowd?  

They were 15-5 at Barclays during the regular season. They were 17-3 away from home, including 2-0 at Connecticut. It was almost 1-1, though, as the Liberty fell behind by 20 in the third quarter there on Aug. 24 before rallying for the win in overtime.

“I think we play really well on the road, so it’s not something we’re afraid of doing,” GM Jonathan Kolb said late last month.

What displeased the Sun the most Tuesday was Alyssa Thomas losing the MVP vote to the Liberty’s Breanna Stewart. Bonner said it was tough on her fiancee and the team. Thomas shot 2-for-13 and scored 10.

“She’ll be all right,” Bonner said. “I got her.”

“We got her,” teammate Tiffany Hayes chimed in from alongside in the interview room.

“We got her, actually,” Bonner said.

On to Game 3.



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