Tina Charles poured in a game-high 17 points, as the Connecticut Sun knocked off the New York Liberty, 65-60, in Game 1 of their best-of-three Eastern Conference semifinal series on Thursday.
Charles was named the WNBA's Most Valuable Player earlier on Thursday. She received 25 first-place votes and a total of 345 points from a national panel of 41 sportswriters and broadcasters, outdistancing Los Angeles Sparks forward Candace Parker for the honor.
In her third pro season, all with the Sun, Charles ended the campaign by posting her third consecutive rebounding title, pulling down 10.5 boards per contest, and setting a new franchise record for points-per-game with 18.0.
Asjha Jones finished with 10 points for the top-seeded Sun, who finished the regular season with a 25-9 mark. Kara Lawson, who took home the Kim Perrot Sportsmanship Award on Thursday, finished with eight points, six rebounds and five assists.
Cappie Pondexter scored 14 points and added five rebounds, while Plenette Pierson netted 13 points with nine boards and Nicole Powell donated 11 points for the Liberty, who nabbed the last playoff spot in the Eastern Conference with a 15-19 regular-season record.
Connecticut came out of the gate on fire, leading by 10 after one quarter. New York bounced back with a solid second quarter, but trailed, 41-34 at the half.
Both teams shot a less-than-stellar 25 percent in the third quarter as the Liberty won the frame, 11-8, but trailed by four heading into the final period.
Connecticut held on down the stretch for the victory, despite turning the ball over 14 times.
Game 2 is set for Saturday night.