Liberty aim to beat Fever, Caitlin Clark for third time

The New York Liberty regained their footing in their past two games by making enough plays down the stretch and are now entering a stretch of five straight games with a financial incentive.

The Liberty begin the first of five straight Commissioner’s Cup games Sunday night when they host Caitlin Clark and the Indiana Fever.

The Liberty will play three of their five Commissioner’s Cup games on the road and are hoping to be among the teams with the top record in those contests to get a chance to compete for a $500,000 prize pool in the championship game on June 25.

New York (6-2) beat the Fever in a home-and-home by a combined 47 points May 16-18 when it opened with four straight wins. After consecutive losses to the Chicago Sky and Minnesota Lynx, New York is coming off an 81-78 home win over the Phoenix Mercury and Friday’s 90-79 victory over the visiting Washington Mystics.

On Friday, the Liberty held a 15-point lead through the first quarter and struggled at times offensively by shooting 44.4 percent and committing 14 turnovers. Sabrina Ionescu scored 24 points and Kayla Thornton added 20 in place of Courtney Vandersloot, who was held out of the game due to a back injury.

“That was the toughness that we needed, and I’m happy,” Liberty coach Sandy Brondello said of Thornton. “I’m really happy for her because she stayed ready. She’s the ultimate professional, and you love that.”

Clark scored a combined 31 points in the two meetings with the Liberty, shooting 2 of 8 in the 36-point loss and 9 of 17 in the meeting in New York.

Indiana (2-8) is attempting to get consecutive wins for the first time this season after eking out a gritty 71-70 home win over Chicago on Saturday afternoon during its first Commissioner’s Cup game to stop a three-game losing streak.

Kelsey Mitchell scored 18 to lead five starters in double figures and NaLyssa Smith added 17 points and nine rebounds. Clark finished with 11 points, eight rebounds and six assists as Indiana survived giving up a game-ending 11-3 run after holding a 68-59 lead.

“I thought earlier this season if we would have shot like this, we wouldn’t have won the game because we didn’t have that resiliency and we would have let it affect our defensive play,” Clark said after Indiana shot 39.1 percent and made 6 of 25 3-point tries.. “So just proud of us; I thought we were really gritty.”

–Field Level Media