Whitcomb scores 26 to lead Liberty past Wings 99-96

NEW YORK (AP) — Sami Whitcomb scored 26 points and Betnijah Laney added 18 to help the New York Liberty beat the Dallas Wings 99-96 in a rare Monday night game.

The WNBA tends to avoid playing on Monday with most teams playing games on Saturday or Sunday.

Liberty coach Walt Hopkins credited the play of Whitcomb on both ends of the court.

“Sami’s combination of defense, passing getting us into stuff, she did everything,” he said. “She played great defense to boot. When Sami’s locked in like that, it helps everybody. From the outset she was really, really locked in.”

Jazmine Jones scored 16 points and Sabrina Ionescu added 13 points and 12 assists for the Liberty (10-9), who made a franchise-record 15 3-pointers on 31 attempts.

“On a night we didn’t shoot the ball as well as we did, we’re going to be pretty frustrated,” Hopkins said.

Isabelle Harrison had 16 of her 23 points in the fourth quarter to lead Dallas (9-10), which couldn’t survive a rare off scoring night from Arike Ogunbowale, who became the third fastest player in WNBA history to reach 1,500 points when she scored her fifth point in the first quarter.

The only players to do it faster were Seimone Augustus and Cynthia Cooper. Later in the period, Ogunbowale reached double digits in points for the 56th consecutive game. Only five other players have done that in league history.

But Ogunbowale didn’t score again until the fourth quarter. She missed all six of her shots in the second and third, finally ending her scoring drought when she tied the game at 83 with over four minutes left. That was her only points after the opening period, and she finished with 12 for the game.

“Sometimes it’s nights like that,” said Dallas coach Vickie Johnson, who starred as a player for New York when the WNBA was just beginning in 1997. “Sometimes the ball goes in the basket.”

New York answered with 3-pointers by Jones, Whitcomb and Laney to build a 92-87 lead with 2:32 left. Dallas cut the deficit to 94-91 with just over a minute left, but Whitcomb hit her sixth 3-pointer of the game to seal it.

Whitcomb had 15 of her points in the first half when New York built a 51-47 lead. The Liberty extended the advantage to 10 in the third quarter before Dallas rallied within 74-69 heading into the final period.

DOUBLE TROUBLE

The only players with longer double-digit scoring streaks than Ogunbowale in WNBA history were Cooper (92), Augustus (88), Lauren Jackson (84), Sylvia Fowles (83) and Maya Moore (57).

WELCOME BACK

After leaving the Liberty’s game on Saturday with a neck injury, Didi Richards returned to play Monday night. She played four minutes. Richards had a scary spinal cord injury while she was at Baylor last year in a freakish accidental collision with a teammate.

UP NEXT

Wings: At Minnesota on Wednesday.

Liberty: At Indiana on Friday.

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More AP women’s basketball: https://apnews.com/hub/womens-basketball and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

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