Uncasville, CT -- Turnovers, and Tina Charles. These two "T's" have been killers for the Connecticut Sun the last two times they faced off against the New York Liberty.
The Sun lost their seventh game in a row Saturday night as they watched the Liberty pull away in the fourth quarter, 80-66. Tina Charles hit jump shot after jump shot, and finished with 15 points.
Connecticut's season-defining losing streak began on August 14 with a home loss to New York, 90-78. Charles had a career night, scoring 31 points. The Sun played Charles differently in the team's second meeting of the month, showing her many different looks.
"As soon as I caught it I was double or triple-teamed," Charles said. "So I was just trying to find the open man. (The Sun) didn't give me any room to breathe or do anything, so I was just trying to assert myself by shooting jump shots."
Even though Charles did not score as much, she still had a large impact on her team's ability to pull out the victory. Charles' passing out of the double-teams is one of the things her coach says she has worked on and improved.
"Tina has been double teamed a lot over the years," Liberty Head Coach Bill Laimbeer said. "She struggled for a couple years, here in Connecticut. She just didn't shoot well because of the double teams. She's learned now to trust her teammates, and that's a big positive for her, knowing that she doesn't have to carry the load all by herself."
Unlike Charles, Kelsey Bone had no choice by to try to carry her team past New York. The Sun are a team with four players currently unavailable due to injury, and Bone did her best to keep her team in the game, scoring a game-high 22 points on 10-of-17 shooting.
Connecticut's lack of depth leaves very little room for errors like turnovers, which was a focal point for the Sun coming into this game.
"It has been a demise recently," Sun Head Coach Anne Donovan said. "When we played New York last time we gave up 28 points on our turnovers. Every time we turned it over in the first three quarters it led to something at the other end, and that's a problem. I give New York credit. They are a team that keeps the pressure on, and doesn't let you run your offense easily."
The Sun were tied with the conference-leading Liberty heading into the fourth quarter, where they would commit seven turnovers allowing New York to pull away. The Liberty ended the game on a 19-5 run.
Connecticut, like many teams, will continue to focus on limiting turnovers. Just like turnovers, it's hard, if not impossible, to limit Charles from impacting the game when she is on the floor. The Most Valuable Player candidate will get to face off against her former team one more time this season, before the Liberty make their first playoff appearance since 2012.