Betnijah Laney had a lucky charm in the crowd for her career-high 22-point performance at Barclays Center on Sunday.
Liberty’s leading scorer Laney credited her young niece, JJ, for her offensive success and assist in the 101-83 win over the Indiana Fever.
“I also had JJ sitting courtside, so that helped a lot,” Laney said. “It’s special because she sees someone trying to be an example for her.”
The guard led his team to a record first quarter.
The Liberty held a 44-17 advantage after the first quarter, scoring the highest-scoring quarter in WNBA history, of which Laney scored 12 points.
Indiana left the Liberty open all-court and paid for it.
Laney showed real toughness driving to the basket and displayed weak power, driving past the Fevers defense and shoving his way into the paint.
“Just reading what the defense is giving, they’re starting to get closer along the (3-point line) so if they’re going to do that, just make sure I’m able to attack and mix it up,” Laney said.
With four games in the next seven days, coach Sandy Brondello spoke before the game about wanting to start his rotation earlier to prepare for the busy period.
That’s exactly what she was able to do as her starters came out, took care of business and gave their group a huge cushion heading into the second quarter.
“This team just believes the way we want to play,” Brondello said. “Offensively, I just think we’re very selfless. We found great shots just by our movement.
Kayla Thornton, Jocelyn Willoughby, Nyara Sabally and Marine Johannes joined Courtney Vandersloot on court to open the second and continued to push the pace, already at a dominant pace.
Johannes scored nine points off the bench to reach the 500 career point mark.
“We have a deep bench. For them to come out and be able to do what they did, it shows how strong we are as a unit,” Laney said.
While the Liberty loosened their cover a little as halftime neared – the Fever went 20-8 to close out the half – they still came away with a 68-46 lead at the break.
A lob behind Sabrina Ionescu’s back to Laney clipping the middle for a seamless layup made it 82-52 with 5:43 left in the third quarter as the Liberty refused to settle for their comfortable lead.
“It wasn’t perfect. It’s quite difficult to play a perfect match, but I think we handled it really well and definitely had the right mindset and balance to stay ahead throughout the match,” Jonquel Jones said.
The Liberty are second in the WNBA at 16-5 with eight wins in their last 10 games.