all scores

Betnijah Laney returns to New York Liberty for first time since May

Betnijah Laney #44 of the New York Liberty smiles before the game against the Phoenix Mercury on August 6, 2022 at Footprint Center in Phoenix, Arizona. (Photo by Barry Gossage/NBAE via Getty Images)

New York Liberty forward Betnijah Laney returned to the court Saturday after being out with a knee injury since May.

The 28-year-old contributed seven points, four rebounds and one block in 21 minutes during the Liberty’s 76-62 loss to the Phoenix Mercury.

Laney, a 2021 WNBA All-Star, rejoins New York in time for a final playoff push after undergoing surgery on her right knee in June. With four games left in the regular season, the Liberty (13-19) are currently 1/2 game back of the eighth-place Mercury and a spot in the WNBA playoffs.

“Hopefully, she can help us a lot,” Liberty head coach Sandy Brondello said Saturday. “Just with her toughness and her ability to open the floor up and also penetrate and post up. But she hasn’t played for a while, so I try not to put any big, high expectations on her. I just want her to have patience. All the hard work she’s put in, it’s going to pay off.”

The Liberty conclude the regular season with two games against the sixth-place Dallas Wings and two against the seventh-place Atlanta Dream, giving them a chance to make up ground and advance to the postseason for the second consecutive year.

“I’m trying to continue to find my rhythm and get my legs back under me,” Laney said after Saturday’s game. “Just trying to go out there and play hard.”

Sabrina Ionescu contributed 20 points, five assists and five rebounds for New York, making WNBA single-season history with her performance, but the team’s offense struggled to gel. Phoenix, without Diana Taurasi and Skylar Diggins-Smith, forged ahead thanks to Diamond DeShields’ team-high 25 points.

The Liberty next travel to Dallas to face the Wings on Monday.