WNBA

Liberty-Mystics Preview

Could the New York Liberty's 20th season finally be the one in which they capture an elusive WNBA title?

The Liberty posted the league's best record a season ago and have made some major additions as they open Saturday night on the road against a Washington Mystics team without Ivory Latta.

New York went 23-11 a year ago before being ousted by Indiana in the Eastern Conference finals. The successful campaign didn't result in an idle offseason.

The Liberty added help on the perimeter by signing veteran guard Lindsey Harding and acquiring 3-point specialist Shoni Schimmel from Atlanta.

They also traded for Amanda Zahui B from Dallas. The 6-foot-5 Zahui B will back up star center Tina Charles, with the Liberty also featuring the 6-6 Carolyn Swords and 6-3 Kiah Stokes as frontcourt options. New York is opting to believe that bigger is better.

"We have a lot of size out there, no overbearing size but from Swords at 6-6 down to Tina at 6-3, we can do a lot of things," coach Bill Laimbeer said.

Charles is a former league MVP who finished third in the voting last year and will again form a one-two scoring punch with Epiphanny Prince for the Liberty, who have lost all four WNBA Finals appearances for the most in league history without winning a title.

"You never know what you have till you start playing and this year's no exception," Laimbeer said.

New York was the only team to post double-digit road victories a year ago with an 11-6 mark. The Liberty lost three of four to Washington in the 2015 regular season before eliminating the Mystics in three games in the first round of the playoffs, tying the series with an 86-68 rout on the road in Game 2.

Washington went 18-16 in 2015 for a third straight playoff appearance but will be without Latta for at least the first month after knee surgery. She led the team with 13.4 points per game.

The Mystics matched Connecticut with 24.6 percent of their points coming on 3-pointers in 2015 and will debut rookie Kahleah Copper, who averaged 17.7 points while shooting 38.6 percent on 3s this past season for Rutgers.

"I can bring the controllables like the energy and the effort," Copper said. "This is a great defensive team and I'm just ready to compete on the defensive end and let the offense flow."

Washington figures to test New York inside with post players Emma Meesseman and Stefanie Dolson combining to average more than 22 points a year ago.

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