(Photo credit: John Jones-USA TODAY Sports)
In the second quarter Tuesday, it appeared the Connecticut Sun would be returning home for an elimination game and a chance at securing a trip to the WNBA Finals.
Instead, the New York Liberty played with a season-on-the-line mentality to even the series and avoided consecutive losses for the first time this season.
The series shifts to Uncasville, Conn., on Friday for Game 3 of the best-of-five WNBA semifinals, with the Liberty and the Sun both hoping to move within one game of punching their ticket to the championship round.
The winner of Friday's game can advance to the finals with a victory on Sunday afternoon in Connecticut.
The Sun opened the series with a smothering defensive performance in a 78-63 win on Sunday. Connecticut's defense forced the Liberty to shoot a season-worst 33.8 percent and miss 19 of 27 3-point tries.
In Game 2 on Tuesday, the Sun raced to a 12-point lead with 7:10 remaining in the second quarter before the Liberty rallied for an 84-77 win by outscoring them 66-47 the rest of the way.
"We knew we had to win this game, to win on our home court," Liberty coach Sandy Brondello said. "We were just pushing each other. You could see a very connected team today. We didn't want to lose."
Sabrina Ionescu led the Liberty with 21 points after shooting 4-for-14 in the series opener. Betnijah Laney added 20 after a 1-for-9 showing in Game 1 and Courtney Vandersloot added 19.
That trio offset the struggles of league MVP Breanna Stewart, who finished with 11 points on 3-of-13 shooting from the field and is shooting 26.3 percent in the series.
In the semifinals for the fifth straight time, the Sun are hoping for a better showing from Alyssa Thomas. After losing a close MVP race to Stewart, Thomas made only 2 of 13 shots and was held to 10 points in Game 2.
Tiffany Hayes scored 30 points and DeWanna Bonner added 19 for Connecticut, which struggled against New York's zone and gave up 11 straight points in the third after taking a four-point lead into halftime.
"They did what they're supposed to do," Sun coach Stephanie White said. "They're where they are for a reason. They've got a lot of weapons, and it's tough to contain them all each and every game."
--Field Level Media