NEW YORK — The New York Liberty will get a huge lift with the return of former Gophers star Amanda Zahui B., Bria Hartley and the addition of Marine Johannes to the roster.
The trio had been playing in the EuroBasket Tournament and helped their teams advance to the Olympic qualifier. Without Zahui B. and Hartley, who were averaging a combined 20 points a game for New York, the Liberty played well, going 4-2 in their absence.
"It's going to be great to have them back," said Liberty coach Katie Smith, a star with the Lynx during her playing career.
Zahui B. was a standout at the University of Minnesota for two seasons before leaving for the WNBA draft in 2015, where she was the second pick overall. She averaged 17 points and 12 rebounds per game during her two seasons with the Gophers, but struggled making the transition to the WNBA, starting only one games in her first four seasons with Tulsa and New York.
But so far in 2019, she started nine games for the Liberty before leaving for EuroBasket, where the 6-5 center for Sweden. Zahui B. has averaged 11 points, eight rebounds and almost 2 1/2 blocks per game for the Liberty this season.
Three weeks ago, she scored a career-high 37 points against Los Angeles.
The Liberty (7-8) are in a group of teams that are within a game or two of each other in the standings.
"A lot of teams are going to get players back, including some who are injured, and we'll have to see what happens as far as how teams adjust," Smith said.
Meanwhile, the Washington Mystics remain atop the AP Power Poll with the Las Vegas Aces — one of the league's hottest teams — on their heels.
A look at this week's WNBA poll:
1. Washington (9-4): Lost the only game they completed last week falling in Los Angeles. The schedule starts to get more favorable for Washington with three of five at home before All-Star break.
2. Las Vegas (9-5): Aces have been one of league's surging teams lately with four wins in their past five games. Kayla McBride has been shooting the ball well from behind the 3-point line during this stretch.
3. Connecticut (9-5): The Sun have faded over the last few weeks dropping four straight. All five remaining games before All-Star are against sub .500 teams.
4. Minnesota (8-6): The Lynx should be getting reinforcements now that the EuroBasket Tournament has ended; Temi Fagbenle will be returning soon.
5. Los Angeles (6-6): Sparks had huge win over Washington and their next six games are against teams in the bottom part of the standings.
6. Seattle (8-8): Injuries have finally caught up to the Storm, who have dropped four of their last five games.
7. Chicago (7-7): Coach James Wade is looking for more consistent play from the Sky, who ended a four-game losing skid with a victory over Dallas.
8. Phoenix (6-6): Brittney Griner has scored 20-plus points in four straight games for the Mercury. Her career-best is five straight 20-plus games, which she set in 2017.
9. New York (7-8): With help on the way, the Liberty will try and continue their road success. New York plays three of its next four away from home.
10. Indiana (6-9): The Fever already have matched last season's win total and play three of the next four at home.
11. Dallas (4-9): Wings welcomed back Glory Johnson from the EuroBasket Tournament and are getting closer to full strength.
12. Atlanta (3-10): The Dream beat Seattle and played Phoenix tough before falling short in the last few seconds.
PLAYER OF THE WEEK
Liz Cambage earned player of the week honors after helping Las Vegas win both its games. Cambage averaged 18.5 points, 10 rebounds and 4.5 assists. Others receiving votes included Tina Charles of New York, Nneka Ogwumike of Los Angeles, Brittney Griner of Phoenix and Odyssey Sims of Minnesota.
Washington forward Elena Delle Donne suffered a nasal fracture during the first quarter of the Mystics game against Los Angeles on Sunday. She's listed as day-to-day by the team.
Griner became the third player in WNBA history to reach 600 blocks when she had three on Sunday against Atlanta. Only Margo Dydek and Lisa Leslie have more.
The WNBA is looking into dates to finish up the Washington and Las Vegas game that was suspended at the half Friday because of the 7.1-magnitude earthquake in California. Washington has already played in Las Vegas twice this season and isn't scheduled to play there again. There are a couple days in August that could work if the league can find an arena in Vegas to play since the Aces' normal home site is already booked.
GAME OF THE WEEK
Aces at Mystics, Saturday. The last time these teams met they only got a half, though the Mystics were leading by 15 points when play was suspended following an earthquake. They are the top teams in the league right now.