Tina Charles scored a game-high 23 points with 10 rebounds for her WNBA-leading 18th double-double of the season as the New York Liberty held off the Connecticut Sun, 89-82, on Friday night at Madison Square Garden.
During halftime of the game, pop star Laura Marano performed her two hit singles “Boombox” and “La-La” with assistance from the New Canaan Dance Academy from New Canaan, Conn.
Despite leading by double figures in both halves, the Liberty (21-10) was not able to pull away from the Sun (11-19) until late in the game. After New York moved in front 76-64 on Swin Cash free throw with 8:12 remaining, Connecticut fought back to pull within 78-76 as Jonquel Jones stroked a 12-foot jumper at 4:39.
The Liberty finished strong, going on an 11-1 run to retake a 12-point lead just a few minutes later. Epiphanny Prince was good from deep, her third 3-pointer of the night, to make it 85-76, and the advantage was back to 10 as Cash drove the lane with 2:22 to play, effectively putting the game out of reach.
Charles was one of four Liberty players in double figures in the win, as New York utilized a balanced effort from its eight healthy players; Tanisha Wright (knee), Kiah Stokes (hip), Shoni Schimmel (concussion), and Shavonte Zellous (back) all missed the game due to injury.
Sugar Rodgers finished with 18 points, hitting a pair of 3-pointer to retake the WNBA lead with 84 made threes this season. Prince enjoyed her best game since returning from offseason knee surgery, scoring in double figures for the first time with 13 points while hitting her first three 3-point attempts.
Amanda Zahui B chipped in 10 points with four rebounds, and Brittany Boyd dished out a career-high eight assists with eight points and six rebounds.
New York started hot, taking a 15-5 lead in the opening moments of the game as Rodgers connected from downtown for a second time. However, the lead was just 19-17 heading into the second quarter and the Sun took its first lead of the night, 24-23, on a Courtney Williams jumper at 6:41 in the second.
The Liberty bounced back to move in front by six at the half, only to see Connecticut come back again to start the third, as the Sun moved ahead for a second time, 47-46, on a Camille Little triple fewer than two minutes into the period.
Williams scored a career-high 20 points for the Sun, and Chiney Ogwumike posted a double-double of 20 points and 10 boards. New York limited the Sun to just 39.0 percent shooting and capitalized on 20 Connecticut turnovers to the tune of 20 points.
The Liberty returns to action on Sunday afternoon, when it makes its first-ever trip to face the Dallas Stars. Tipoff is scheduled for 4:30 PM (ET) and the contest will be broadcast on MSG Network and NBA TV.