Natasha Howard’s season debut gave the New York Liberty their projected starting lineup for the first time this season.
It also resulted in another win for the Liberty, who look to continue their hot start Monday night when Howard makes her home debut against the Dallas Wings.
Howard was acquired in a three-team trade on Feb. 10 after spending the previous two seasons with the Seattle Storm. Because of EuroLeague commitments in Italy, Howard did not make her debut until Sunday’s 93-85 win over the Chicago Sky.
Howard scored 12 points and was among six players to reach double figures.
“She looked a little sped up at first,” New York coach Walt Hopkins said of Howard. “A little jumpy as should be expected with no practices, just coming in and starting. She did do a great job knocking down that first jumper (and) gave us a little bit of momentum. And I think her ability to cut and move without the ball and catch tough passes and finish them is something that we are really going to benefit from.”
Howard is being incorporated into the league’s top 3-point shooting team. After hitting 14 on Sunday the Liberty lead the WNBA at 44.4 percent and 59 made 3-pointers.
New York is off to a 4-1 start after going 2-20 in last summer’s bubble when No. 1 draft pick Sabrina Ionescu suffered a season-ending ankle injury three games in and the Liberty shot a league-worst 27.7 percent from behind the arc.
Ionescu has helped the perimeter game immensely by shooting 48.5 percent (16 of 33) from deep and averaging 18.4 points. She scored 19 points and made five 3-pointers on Sunday.
Dallas (1-1) opened the season with a 94-71 road win over the Los Angeles Sparks on May 14 but has played once since then.
On Saturday, the Wings took a 100-97 overtime loss to Seattle in their home opener.
Arike Ogunbowale scored 28 points, marking the 39th straight game she reached double figures. It is the longest active streak in the league and one shy of the franchise record set by Skylar Diggins-Smith.
Despite Ogunbowale’s big game and a career-high 26 points from Marina Mabrey, Dallas was doomed by late foul trouble and turnovers.
“We could have won. Obviously, Seattle’s a great team, but we’re also a great team,” Ogunbowale said. “We [went] to overtime with the reigning champs.”
–Field Level Media
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