Betnijah Laney will return to the Liberty lineup as New York prepares for its final five games, starting Saturday night at Phoenix (10 p.m. ET, yes).
Liberty (13-18) have five games remaining on the regular season schedule as they seek a post-season appearance for the first time since 2015-2017. They currently hold seventh out of eight seeded positions in the WNBA Extension, with Saturday’s opponent, Mercury (13-19) trailing by one game.
Laney’s return heralded a completely blank report on Liberty’s injury, which will make Saturday’s visit to Arizona the first game the team plays with a full roster. She will appear in her first WNBA competition since May 17.
Rutgers alumnus Lani joined Liberty last season after being named WNBA MVP for her efforts with the Atlanta Dream in 2020. She followed that up with an average of 16.8 points and 5.2 best assists of her career (both featured in the WNBA’s 10th summit at the end of the year ) in her first year in sea foam. Laney played a key role in Liberty’s comeback post-season last year, leading the team in scoring and representing New York at the 2021 WNBA All-Star Game in Las Vegas.
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Liberty’s new contract provided a form of stability for Laney, who ran through Chicago, Connecticut and Indiana after entering the league as a second-round pick in 2015. A right knee injury delayed the start of Laney’s 2022 campaign and she made four appearances. Games before undergoing a laparoscopic partial menopause approximately two weeks after their last appearance. In those four games, Lani averaged 13.3 points and 4.3 assists before leaving for medical reasons.
Despite her absence on the court, Lani Bassir remained active on the Liberty Seat,
“Without Petnia, we’re missing out on aggressiveness, heart and defensive mind,” 2022 Liberty All-Star teammate Natasha Howard said in July about what the team lost in Laney’s absence. “We miss pretty much everything, in general, what she does for us in attack and defence. We also miss her voice on the ground.”
It comes with a level of leadership,” Michaela Onnier, another New York teammate and WNBA Rookie of the Year, said in May. “She sees the floor and the game and holds us accountable.”
New York has reintroduced itself once again into the WNBA playoff chase with wins in each of its last three games, a streak that began with an 89-69 win over Phoenix on Sunday at Barclays Center.