After convincingly defeating the defending Eastern Conference champion Chicago Sky in back-to-back games, the first-place Liberty left little doubt as to who stands as the team to beat in the East.
Having won eight of its last nine, the surging Liberty (15-6) next play at 7 p.m. Friday against the Connecticut Sun (11-10) at Mohegan Sun Arena and then return to the Garden to play the Tulsa Shock (10-13) at 7 p.m. Saturday.
Here are three keys for the Liberty to remain on top this weekend.
Earlier in the season, it was apparent that if the Liberty’s offense could ever match their top-ranked defense, the team would become extremely tough to beat. That scenario has come to fruition in recent weeks. The Liberty are shooting 45.9% from the field and 34.2% from 3-point range during their three-game win streak, up significantly from season averages of 41.7% and 29.9% shooting, respectively.
Epiphanny Prince has been at the center of the Liberty’s offensive awakening after she lit up the Sky for 30 points last Friday, followed by 22 on Tuesday. She nailed a stunning 20-of-27 shots in the two games against her former team.
Bruise the Sun
Against Connecticut, the Liberty figure to inflict most of their damage in the paint. The Sun rank second-to-last in rebounds per game and last in blocks, whereas the Liberty lead the league in rebounds and block the fourth-most shots per game.
Tina Charles is averaging 17.2 points and 9.2 rebounds for the Liberty, while rookie Kiah Stokes averages 6.4 rebounds and 2.2 blocks, so both centers should be able to control the pace of the game down low against the Sun.
Can’t knock Shock’s offense
The Shock were dealt a devastating blow in early July when their star point guard Skylar Diggins tore her ACL. The team has now painfully lost nine games in a row after a hot start to the season.
Tulsa is still dangerous on offense, ranking third in the league in points per game. Guard Riquna Williams averages 16 points to lead the team. She exploded for 35 points last Sunday against the Atlanta Dream and will be a formidable challenge for the Liberty’s defense.