Rookies Shine, but Liberty Fall to Chicago in Preseason Opener
The New York rookies showed that they belong playing under the bright lights, but it was not enough, as the Liberty fell to the Chicago Sky, 83-55, in its preseason opener at the University of Delaware on Friday night.
First-year center Kiah Stokes led the way for New York, racking up a double-double with 11 points and 11 rebounds, while rookie wing Rebecca Allen finished with 10 points, knocking down both of her outside attempts. However, the Liberty struggled as a team from 3-point range, shooting just 3-for-12 (.250).
“I wanted to see how our players play,” said third-year Liberty head coach Bill Laimbeer. “We’ve got so many new [players], I wanted to see how they each can do. Practice is one thing but when you go in the game, it’s who can play in the game, who can get it done and who can take what they did in practice going forward. I got a really good look at all the rookies. [Getting a look at the rookies] was a big key for us tonight. I wanted to see what the rookies could do or couldn’t do and were there mistakes where and show them on film, as well as [getting a look at] the veterans and see how we all mesh.”
As the Sky took the court in Newark once again all eyes were on Delaware native and University of Delaware alum, Elena Delle Donne. Despite just three points from Delle Donne in first quarter, the WNBA’s 2014 Sixth Woman of the Year Allie Quigley picked up where she left off last season, by scoring four points in her first two minutes of action off the bench to keep the Sky within striking distance after one, 16-14.
A steal and layup by forward Tamera Young sparked a 16-0 Chicago Sky run midway through the second quarter as the Sky took a commanding 14-point lead and never looked back. The run featured back-to-back jump shots from Delle Donne and five points from guard Jacki Gemelos off the bench. The Sky outscored the Liberty 26-12 in the second quarter to carry a 12-point advantage into the half, 40-28.
Chicago carried its hot shooting into the second half, starting the third quarter on an 8-2 run as Courtney Vandersloot connected on a pair of three pointers. A timeout with just under four minutes in the quarter ignited an 8-0 Sky run that included rookie Cheyenne Parker’s first two points. At the end of three, the Sky led 61-43.
Chicago outscored New York 22-12 in the final quarter, and pulled away for an 83-55 victory. Delle Donne led all scorers in the game with 16 points and eight rebounds while Gemelos finished with 10 points in 16 minutes off the bench. Cappie Pondexter finished with five points and two rebounds in her Chicago Sky debut and first time playing alongside teammate Elena Delle Donne.
New York returns to action for its preseason home opener on Wednesday, May 27, as the Liberty host the Atlanta Dream at Madison Square Garden for Kids Day. Tipoff is scheduled for 11 a.m.