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Liberty rout Sun to clinch at least second seed in playoffs

Breanna Stewart New York Liberty Breanna Stewart - Getty Images

NEW YORK (AP) — Betnjiah Laney scored 19 points and Breanna Stewart added 14 points, 10 rebounds and seven assists to help the New York Liberty rout the Connecticut Sun 89-58 on Friday night and clinch at least a top two seed in the playoffs.

The Liberty (29-7) trail Las Vegas by 1 1/2 games for the top overall spot. The Sun (25-12) are locked into the third seed with the loss.

New York played without All-Star guard Sabrina Ionescu, who sat out to rest her right calf.

“Just being really smart with the playoffs in mind,” Liberty coach Sandy Brondello said. “Knowing we want to win and play well.”

Marine Johannes started in Ionescu's place and finished with 18 points.

Tiffany Hayes scored 11 points to lead the Sun, who had won four of five coming into the game with the lone loss coming against the Liberty on Aug. 24, a 95-90 overtime defeat.

New York swept all four meetings with Connecticut this season.

Laney helped New York get out to a 11-point lead at the end of the first quarter, scoring 10 of her points in the period. The Liberty extended the advantage to 49-32 at the half against a Sun squad that was playing the second half of a back-to-back.

The Liberty put the game in the third quarter, thanks to some strong play from Kayla Thornton, who received a multi-year extension earlier in the day. She’s averaged 4.7 points and 3.5 rebounds this season playing just over 17 minutes a game.

New York celebrated its first West Indian Night.

“It means a lot and shows the diversity of New York City that we can do something like this,” Bahamas native Jonquel Jones said. “Excited to see all the Caribbean people show up and hopefully showing out.”