Mabrey, Reese help Chicago beat New York 90-81, a win for coach Weatherspoon against former team – Metro US

Mabrey, Reese help Chicago beat New York 90-81, a win for coach Weatherspoon against former team

Sky Liberty Basketball
New York Liberty’s Breanna Stewart (30) defends against Chicago Sky’s Angel Reese (5) during the first half of a WNBA basketball game Thursday, May 23, 2024, in New York. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)

NEW YORK (AP) — Teresa Weatherspoon said she’ll always be “Liberty for life.”

Her homecoming to New York was special for the first-year Chicago Sky coach as her team came away with a win.

Marina Mabrey had 21 points, seven assists and six rebounds to help the Sky beat the Liberty 90-81 on Thursday night.

“This was was really for her,” said Chicago guard Dana Evans, who added 12 points. “We really wanted this for her more than anything.”

Weatherspoon starred as a player for the Liberty in the WNBA’s early days from 1997-2003. She helped New York reach the finals in three of the league’s first four years. She was the heart and soul of those teams and adored by the crowds at Madison Square Garden.

Many of those fans from more than 20 years ago attended Thursday night at the Barclays Center, wearing Weatherspoon’s No. 11 jersey.

“I know those fans in there,” Weatherspoon said. “I know them, I know a lot of the faces. There was a connection. … There’s a lot of love that we have for each other and I would lead by saying how much I love them and appreciate them and nothing will ever change that. Nothing.”

The coach was honored with a loud ovation in pregame introductions and again when the Liberty played a tribute video midway through the first quarter.

“I’m going to show my love for them and show my appreciation to everyone in New York City,” Weatherspoon said. “I hope you see this and know I love you all very much from the bottom of my heart, me and my family.”

Angel Reese added 13 points and nine rebounds for the Sky (2-1).

New York (4-1) led 68-67 early in the fourth quarter before Mabrey and Reese spurred a 19-7 run to give Chicago an 86-75 lead. Reese then had a three-point play with 2:18 left that put the game away.

“Confidence builder, if anything,” Mabrey said of the win. “This league is so tough. We’re going to turn around and play Connecticut (next). Appreciate this tonight then tomorrow hits.”

Sabrina Ionescu scored 19 points while Breanna Stewart added 18 points and 10 rebounds for New York, which was off to its best start since the 2007 season.

Stewart missed all four of her shot attempts in the first half while Jonquel Jones was saddled with foul trouble. The Sky built a 40-32 halftime lead behind Mabrey, who scored 12 in the half.

New York trailed by double digits in the third quarter before Stewart led a rally for a brief lead.

Chicago was missing Isabelle Harrison (knee), Diamond DeShields (foot) and Kamilla Cardoso (shoulder). Weatherspoon said she expected to have DeShields and Cardoso back soon.

Sky: Play their first home game of the season on Saturday when they host Connecticut.

Liberty: Travel to Minnesota to play the Lynx on Saturday.

AP WNBA: https://apnews.com/hub/wnba-basketball