WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. (AP) — Reshanda Gray just wanted to get one more win for Liberty assistant coach Charmin Smith, who had also coached her at Cal.
Gray had 13 points, 11 rebounds and hit one of two free throws with 24.4 seconds left to lift the New York Liberty to a 69-68 victory over the Dallas Wings on Friday night.
Smith is heading back to California to take over as the head coach of the Golden Bears. Smith was an assistant for the Bears for the past 12 years before coming to New York this season. When Cal head coach Lindsay Gottlieb took an assistant coaching job with the NBA’s Cleveland Cavaliers, Smith couldn’t turn down a chance to be the head coach.
“Go Bears!” Gray said. “Charmin saw me from when I was a freshman to playing in this league. I wanted her to go out with a win.”
The Wings had a couple chances in the final seconds, but fell short. Arike Ogunbowale missed two shots that would have given Dallas the lead. Her floater in the lane with 5.7 seconds left was rebounded by Brittany Boyd. Boyd missed both free throws, giving Ogunbowale one final opportunity, but her off-balance shot from 30 feet missed. She finished 2 for 23 from the field.
Ogunbowale looked at the stat sheet after the game and shook her head.
“Nothing you can do about that, that’s tough,” she said. “Shots didn’t fall.”
Her performance was the worst by percentage in WNBA history for a player who’s taken more than 20 shots according to STATS.
With the game tied at 68, Gray came down with a rebound off a miss by Boyd. Isabelle Harrison got hurt on the play and had to be helped off the court. Gray missed the first free throw, but hit the second one to break the tie.
Kia Nurse led the way with 17 points and Tina Charles added 15 for New York (4-7).
Ogunbowale, who averaged 23.5 points in her previous two games, was held to 10. She missed her first 10 shots before hitting a 3-pointer in the third quarter that tied it 40.
Kayla Thornton led Dallas (3-7) with a career-high 20 points.
New York guard Tanisha Wright missed the game for personal reasons according to the team. … New York presented Charles with a ball to commemorate her breaking the franchise’s career scoring record a few games ago. The Liberty also had a tribute video for her featuring current and former players.
New York signed forward Avery Warley-Talbert after being granted an emergency hardship salary cap exception by the league. New York was down to nine players on the roster as Bria Hartley and Amanda Zahui B. are playing in the EuroBasket tournament. Rebecca Allen has been sidelined with a broken bone in her right hand. Warley-Talbert was on the preseason roster and played in each of the team’s four preseason games.
Wings: Host Minnesota on Sunday.
Liberty: Open three-game trip in Atlanta on Sunday.