Charles double-double leads Sun past Liberty 69-63
UNCASVILLE, Conn. – Tina Charles scored 18 points and added 17 rebounds for her WNBA record 23rd double-double of the season to lead the Connecticut Sun past the New York Liberty 69-63 on Sunday.
Connecticut (21-13) earned homecourt advantage in the first round of the WNBA playoffs, which begin this week. The Sun will play Atlanta, which clinched the third seed after beating Indiana on Sunday.
The Liberty will play the Fever.
Charles owned the previous double-double record last season at 22. Charles also finished with 374 rebounds, 24 fewer than last year when she set the league record.
Asjha Jones added 17 points and 11 rebounds for the Sun. Jones' three-point play with 1:09 left gave the Sun the lead for good at 65-63. Connecticut held New York scoreless over the last 1:26, forcing two turnovers.
New York's Cappie Pondexter had possession of the ball in the final minute, but defensive specialist Tan White stole the ball to preserving the lead.
Nicole Powell led the Liberty with 14 points. Pondexter had 12 points on 5 of 21 shooting, while Kara Braxton finished 5 of 5 for 10 points.
White's steal came with 24 seconds remaining.
"I just swung and tipped it and then it was loose and I just grabbed it," White said. "I was trying to be aggressive on the ball and make her speed up whatever she was trying to do."
New York (19-15) used a 6-0 run midway through the fourth period to take a 59-54 lead with 3:32 left.
Lelani Mitchell's off balance 3-pointer as time expired in the first half capped a 21-6 run and gave New York a 33-26 halftime lead.
Jones was 6 for 17 from the field and 5 of 5 from the free-throw line.
"It is just good to know that people can step it up when it counts," Jones said. "We started the game kind of sketchy here and there, with shot clock violations and things like that. But in the end we settled down and got people the ball when we needed them to have it."
The Sun's defense produced eight steals and six blocked shots. New York shot 9 for 12 from the free-throw line, while Connecticut went 16 for 20.
"That is playoff kind of atmosphere and good defense causes bad shooting usually," New York coach John Whisenant said. "They beat us at the foul line, which has been our story all year."
Charles shot 6 for 10 in the first half, while the rest of the Sun went 4-26.
"We calmed down at halftime," Sun coach Mike Thibault said. "Me included."