WNBA: Liberty grab second straight win, Bonner leads Sun past Mercury

Field Level Media/Reuters

Posted at May 17 2021 10:15 AM

WNBA: Liberty grab second straight win, Bonner leads Sun past Mercury 1
Betnijah Laney #44, Rebecca Allen #9, and DiDi Richards #2 of the New York Liberty looks on during the game against the Indiana Fever on May 16, 2021 at Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis, Indiana. Ron Hoskins, NBAE via Getty Images/AFP

Betnijah Laney's game-high 20 points led four players in double figures Sunday as the New York Liberty used a quick start to beat the Indiana Fever 73-65 in Indianapolis, enabling them to sweep a home-and-home series.

Sabrina Ionescu added 12 and Michaela Onyenwere netted 11 points, while Jazmine Jones came off the bench to score 10. New York won despite occasionally sloppy play, committing 22 turnovers -- eight by Ionescu -- and making only 40 percent of its field goal attempts.

Kelsey Mitchell scored 16 points to pace Indiana, while Danielle Robinson added 13 and Tiffany Mitchell tallied 12 in a reserve role. But the Fever struggled to make shots, canning just 32.5 percent from the field and also mixing in 21 turnovers.

Indiana never got closer than seven points in the fourth quarter, even though the Liberty gave them opportunities with a spate of turnovers. But the Fever went scoreless for a 3:56 stretch that put them down by 13 inside the last four minutes.

Indiana center Teaira McCowan, who dominated Friday night's 90-87 defeat inside with 22 points and 16 rebounds, was held to six points on 3-of-7 shooting in 26 minutes.

New York created its winning edge in the first quarter, using a 10-2 run that Ionescu capped with a 3-pointer at the 5:19 mark for a 20-12 lead. The margin ballooned to 15 before the Liberty settled for a 31-18 advantage after 10 minutes.

The middle two quarters were a collection of missed shots and turnovers on both ends. New York actually pushed the margin to 39-20 with 8:01 left in the first half after a Sami Whitcomb 3-pointer, but they scored only two points for the half's remainder. Indiana managed to slice the deficit to 41-35 at intermission.

Jones' layup with 38.3 seconds remaining in the third quarter restored a 58-45 advantage for the Liberty, but the Fever crawled within nine after a Jessica Breland jumper and two free throws by Tiffany Mitchell. It was 58-49 going to the fourth period.

-- DeWanna Bonner shines against former team --

DeWanna Bonner led all scorers with 27 points against her former team and Natisha Hiedeman scored a career-high 17 points as the host Connecticut Sun held off the Phoenix Mercury 86-78 in their home opener Sunday night.

Jonquel Jones had a double-double with 14 points and 13 rebounds and Briann January contributed 15 points for Connecticut (2-0), which won its season opener 78-67 at Atlanta on Friday night.

"We just buckled down at the end," Bonner said after the win. "When they went on their run, we didn't quit. We kept fighting."

Bonner spent her first 10 seasons with Phoenix and made three All-Star appearances before signing with Connecticut in 2020.

Diana Taurasi had a team-high 19 points, Skylar Diggins-Smith scored 18 and Brittney Griner had 16 points and four blocks to lead Phoenix (1-1). The Mercury won their opener 77-75 at Minnesota behind a Taurasi game-winning 3-pointer on Friday night.

Connecticut led 37-33 at halftime on Sunday.

Hiedeman's layup with 4:32 to play the third quarter gave the Sun their biggest lead at 52-39. The Mercury whittled the deficit down to 59-52 entering the fourth.

Phoenix further closed the gap early in the fourth and Taurasi's trey with 5:54 remaining gave the Mercury their first lead since the second quarter at 68-66.

After the Sun battled back to tie it, Bonner's 3 with 2:27 left gave Connecticut the lead for good at 76-73 and the Sun closed the game on a 10-5 run.

Griner fouled out with 1:44 to play and the Sun leading by five.
Phoenix jumped out to a 21-17 lead by the end of the first quarter. Back-to-back 3s by Bonner and Hiedeman early in the second put the Sun on top and opened a 20-12 run to give the hosts a four-point edge at the break.

The Sun were again without Jasmine Thomas as the former All-Star guard waits to clear COVID-19 protocols.

Phoenix next visits the Washington Mystics on Tuesday and Connecticut hosts the Indiana Fever on Wednesday.


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