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WNBA: Liberty, Mercury meet in duel of struggling teams

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The New York Liberty bolted out of the blocks with wins in five of their first six games before stumbling in each of their last three contests.

The Liberty (5-4) look to regain their footing on Sunday when they visit the Phoenix Mercury (5-5), who have lost two in a row overall and four of five at home.

Despite New York’s recent struggles, leading scorer Betnijah Laney says she has learned to tune out the noise.

“A lot of people didn’t think we would get off to the start we did,” Laney said, per ESPN. “But if I know anything, it’s that you can’t listen to what other people think and say about you. We believe in ourselves, and that’s going to take us where we want to go.”

Laney likely will have a large role in that. The 2020 WNBA’s Most Improved Player is averaging a robust 20.8 points per game after reaching the 20-point plateau in each of her team’s first eight contests.

Laney, however, was limited to just eight points on 4-of-12 shooting from the floor in New York’s 85-64 loss to the Connecticut Sun on June 5.

Celebrated star Sabrina Ionescu had just five points in the loss for the Liberty, who mustered a season-low point total.

“I think we’ve kinda gone up and down this year … but it’s a learning curve,” New York coach Walt Hopkins said. “It’s kinda how it goes. We’ve had some good ones and some bad ones. It’s a young season.”

The Mercury sustained back-to-back losses against the Dallas Wings. Phoenix did itself no favors from the 3-point line, making 5 of 25 attempts in an 85-81 setback on Tuesday before going 3 of 20 three nights later in a 77-59 defeat.

“It’s on us, that’s embarrassing. We’ve got to come out and fight. We didn’t look like a team that wanted to win a game (on Friday),” Mercury coach Sandy Brondello said.

Brittney Griner has led Phoenix in its last two games, scoring 27 and 19 points, respectively.

Skylar Diggins-Smith, who averages a team-best 18.8 points per game, was limited to just 11 on Friday following a 4-of-12 performance from the floor.

–Field Level Media

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