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Liberty defeats Mercury in important home win

The New York Liberty returned to the Barclays Center on Sunday to face off against Diana Taurasi and the Phoenix Mercury. The Liberty lost their last game to the Chicago Sky but made a promising appearance against the Mercury. They are now 11th in the standings and will have to make it to eighth place to qualify for the playoffs.

Even with the likes of Taurasi, New York was able to hold her to only 12 points. With 23 points for Natasha Howard and 16 assists for Sabrina Ionescu, the two powered the offense to be successful. Ionescu's 16 assists broke the single-game franchise record.

The starting lineups were as follows: the Liberty featured Howard, Ionescu, Rebecca Allen, Stefanie Dolson and Crystal Dangerfield, Phoenix featured Taurasi, Skylar Diggins-Smith, Brianna Turner, Sophie Cunningham and Shey Peddy.

Highlights

For the first seven points of the night, Ionescu dropped dimes for the shots. Howard had the first bucket beyond the arch and an easy layup for two. The other assist from Ionescu was fed perfectly through to Dangerfield who got two. The Mercury didn't score until there were around six minutes remaining, giving props to the defensive efforts of the Liberty. Dangerfield got a three to finish the quarter which was fed through by Ionescu. Howard finished the quarter with seven points and Ionescu had four assists. The Liberty led 19-14 entering the second quarter.

The second quarter saw a similar performance from Liberty. Dangerfield picked up where she left off scoring five more points in the half, increasing her total to 10. Ionescu added to her assist tally with three this quarter. The quarter ended with a three made by Dolson which was once again assisted by Ionescu. The Liberty scored 16 in the half compared to Phoenix's 13 and went into halftime leading 35-27.

After the first half, New York shot 44 percent from the paint and 31 percent from beyond the arc. Phoenix had significantly lower numbers with 29 percent from the paint and just 7 percent from three-pint land. The Liberty did have eight fouls in the half which has been a big downside for the team this season. The Mercury converted all eight of their free-throws compared to no free-throws for the home team.

In the third quarter, the scoring continued to be productive for the home team. Dangerfield came out firing with a three-pointer from the top of the arch. Rebecca Allen later followed up with three shots beyond the arch that were perfectly placed, adding nine to her total points. Dangerfield finished the quarter with a jumper, giving her 15 points going into the final quarter. Allen finished with 13 points and Ionescu increased her assists to 12 one the game.

The fourth quarter saw a Mercury team trying to keep up to their opponent, but ultimately didn't have what it took. Their offense increased and they were hitting shots more cleanly. The Liberty stayed composed and kept the baskets going. Howard ended the game with 23 points and Allen ended with 17 going 4-5 from beyond the arch. Dangerfield also had 17 points and went 3-5 from beyond the arch.

New York won 89-69, giving them confidence for their next set of games. They shot 49.3 percent from the paint and 46.2 from beyond the arc to finish the game.

What's Up Next for the New York Liberty?

The Liberty continue their season on August 2 at the Barclays Center. The team takes on the LA Sparks at 7 p.m. on CBS Sports Network. You can visit the Liberty's website for tickets and more information.

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