Moore helps Lynx beat Liberty
By Doug Feinberg
AP Basketball Writer
WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. (AP) — Maya Moore scored 20 points, including a 3-pointer from the top of the key with 19.5 seconds left, and the Minnesota Lynx beat New York 78-72 on Friday night to spoil the Liberty’s first game in their new home — the Westchester County Center.
The Lynx star sat out most of the fourth quarter as her team rallied from a six-point deficit. She left with 5 minutes left in the period before re-entering with 56 remaining. Sylvia Fowles hit two free throws to give the Lynx a 71-70 advantage. Tina Charles answered with a basket to put the Liberty up 72-71 with 23.5 seconds left.
After a timeout, Moore caught the ball at halfcourt, dribbled to the top of the key swished a 3-pointer through the net.
Kia Nurse tried to respond for New York (0-2), but she missed a jumper and the Lynx (2-1) hit four free throws in the final 13 seconds to seal the win. Seimone Augustus scored 21 points to lead the Lynx.
Charles finished with 18 points and 12 rebounds for New York, which will play all but two games at the arena, which houses the Knicks’ G-League team. The County Center is configured to seat 2,319 fans for Liberty games with the option to expand it to about 4,500. The Liberty drew an average of just over 9,000 last year when they played at Madison Square Garden. Friday’s opener was a sellout.
Among the crowd was Liberty owner James Dolan, who put the team up for sale over the winter but didn’t find a suitable buyer. The team is still up for sale. Moving games from the Garden to Westchester saves him a lot of money.
Dolan, who has owned the team since its inception, sat on the baseline for the first half with team president Isiah Thomas. WNBA President Lisa Borders was also at the game, sitting at one of the courtside tables.
The County Center tried to have the feel of MSG with the same in-game entertainment, including the ever-popular Timeless Torches senior dance team, and of course the loveable mascot Maddie. Despite the smaller venue it was certainly loud. They cheered when Marissa Coleman scored the Liberty’s first points at their new home.
New York was trailing the defending champion Lynx 41-36 at the half before a strong third quarter, led by Nurse, gave the Liberty a four-point lead heading into the final period.
The game also marked the home debut of coach Katie Smith, who took over as the head coach this season after spending a few years as an assistant. New York was missing guards Brittany Boyd (Achilles), Sugar Rodgers (knee) and Epiphanny Prince (concussion). The Liberty also were still missing Kia Vaughn, who was finishing up her overseas season.