WNBA: Liberty topple Dream, move into playoff position

Crystal Dangerfield’s 18 points and Natasha Howard’s double-double of 14 points and 12 rebounds led the New York Liberty to an 80-70 win on Friday over the Atlanta Dream at College Park, Ga., in a game that had significant WNBA playoff implications.

Atlanta (14-21) entered Friday in the final playoff spot as the No. 8 seed, but the Liberty (15-20) were able to move ahead of the Dream with the win. New York is tied for seventh in the standings with the Phoenix Mercury (15-20), both one game ahead of the Minnesota Lynx (14-21) and Atlanta.

The Dream and Liberty will meet in their regular-season finale on Sunday at New York, the same day Phoenix hosts the Chicago Sky while Minnesota visits the Connecticut Sun.

Betnijah Laney had 17 points and Sabrina Ionescu added 15 points, eight rebounds and six assists in Friday’s win. Dangerfield also had six assists.

Erica Wheeler paced Atlanta with 16 points.

Rhyne Howard added 14 points and six rebounds and Cheyenne Parker contributed 13 points for the Dream, who have lost three straight games and seven of their last nine largely due to being shorthanded.

The Dream were without four regulars against New York. Two of them — Nia Coffey (knee) and A.D. Durr (hip) — were out because of injury and Kristy Wallace did not play because of health and safety protocols.

Tiffany Hayes also isn’t with the team and is currently playing overseas in a professional 3-on-3 tournament in Turkey.

Monique Billings (ankle) was listed as probable entering the game and played 15 minutes, finishing with four points and nine rebounds.

An 11-0 run by the Liberty in the second quarter opened a 53-38 lead with 1:48 left until halftime.

That game-turning stretch included three-point plays by Michaela Onyenwere, Howard and Laney.

New York, which led 53-42 at halftime, led by as much as 22 in the third quarter before having a 70-53 margin entering the final frame.

Atlanta started the fourth quarter outscoring New York 17-7 to cut the lead to 77-70 with 2:40 remaining.

New York shot 2 of 11 from the field in the fourth quarter.

–Field Level Media

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