Betnijah Laney went over the 1,000-point mark of her career and helped push the New York Liberty hold off a furious rally by the Los Angeles Sparks in a 76-73 victory Sunday afternoon in Los Angeles.
The contest commemorated the 25th anniversary of the first game in league history between the Liberty and Sparks on June 21, 1997 and it featured nine ties and nine lead changes.
Rebecca Allen made five 3-pointers and finished with 19 as the Liberty (7-6) ended a two-game losing streak. She also blocked a game-tying shot in the final seconds.
Sami Whitcomb scored 17. Betnijah Laney added 14 and Kylee Shook finished with 11.
Laney reached the 1,000-point milestone off a move inside with eight minutes to play in the third quarter that extended the Liberty lead to 49-36.
Erica Wheeler recorded her second consecutive double-double, scoring 20 points and dishing out 10 assists. She scored 11 in the first quarter for the Sparks (5-7), who have dropped four of five.
Kristi Tolliver finished with 15. Nia Coffey scored 15 as well and Brittney Sykes added 10 to go along with a career-best 7 steals.
Sparks forward Bria Holmes did not play in the second half because of an injured foot.
Down 44-36 at halftime and by as many as 14 in the second half after Betnijah Laney hit a pull-up jumper for a 53-39 lead, Los Angeles used a 19-5 run the rest of the quarter to tie the score at 58-58 heading into the fourth after a strong take to the basket by Wheeler with 7.2 to go.
The Liberty led 72-71 after a Laney jumper with 2:06 to play and never looked back. With Los Angeles trailing 74-73, Tolliver tried to get a 3-pointer off with 8.2 to play but the shot was blocked by Allen.
The Sparks and Liberty will play one more time this season when they battle on Aug. 22 in New York.
--Field Level Media