UNCASVILLE, Conn. (AP) — Tina Charles had 23 points and nine rebounds to lead the Connecticut Sun to an 85-74 victory over the New York Liberty on Saturday night.
Kara Lawson had 21 points, five rebounds and five assists for the Eastern Conference-leading Sun (16-5). Allison Hightower added 20 points to help Connecticut bounce back after a 79-66 loss to New York on Thursday night in the teams’ first game after the Olympic break.
Mistie Mims, playing in place of the injured Asjha Jones (strained left Achilles tendon), added 11 points, four rebounds and four assists.
Charles also became the fastest player in WNBA history to reach 1,000 rebounds, accomplishing it in her 89th game.
Cappie Pondexter had 17 points and five assists for the Liberty (7-13). Essence Carson also scored 17 and Plenette Pierson added 14 points and eight rebounds.
Connecticut capitalized on 26 New York turnovers, scoring 28 points off the miscues.
The Sun were trying to withstand a late Liberty rally as their 17-point, second-half lead eroded to six points with more than 2 minutes remaining.
Another New York turnover derailed it quickly as Nicole Powell was called for traveling, the Liberty’s final turnover of the game. Powell was hit by a technical, and Lawson made the free throw to give the Sun an 81-74 lead.
Montgomery followed with a short jumper at the shot-clock buzzer that just rolled in. Charles added a jumper of her own for the final margin.
New York trailed 76-61 with less than 5 minutes left in the game when it made one last charge. A 3-pointer by Carson off a drive-and-kick by Pondexter cut the Liberty’s deficit to 80-74 with 2:18 left.
Connecticut led 47-43 at halftime. The Sun used a lot of defense and clutch scoring by Lawson to extend the lead in the third quarter. Lawson scored 10 points in the period as the Sun pulled ahead 66-50.
The Liberty missed nine of their 12 shots in the third and also turned it over nine times, including twice on 3-second violations.
Connecticut trailed by eight points in the second quarter, but closed with a 13-6 run. Hightower ended the quarter with a 3-pointer to give the Sun their four-point lead.
Charles carried the Sun offensively in the first half, playing all 20 minutes and scoring 19 points.
The Liberty went on a 9-0 run at the end of the first quarter and into the second. It was highlighted by Powell’s 3-pointer and Kia Vaughn’s jumper over Charles that gave New York a 31-23 edge.
New York shot 64 percent in the first quarter, including four 3s to take a 26-23 lead.
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