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Go big or go home: Tina Charles bringing Liberty home

The third quarter was climactic in the 86-68 win over the Washington Mystics. Liberty’s Tina Charles was the focus in the win with 17 of her total 22 points made in the third to win Game two of the Eastern Conference Semifinals.

Chris Poss

"I just played like it was my last. That is all I kept saying: I want to see Tuesday, we want to see Tuesday," said Liberty's Tina Charles.

This mindset did not sink in for Charles until the third quarter, when she dipped 17 of her 22 total points.

The Liberty led by seven at the half, but Coach of the Year Bill Laimbeer desired shots to sink along with a focused attitude.

"I thought our team played focused. We were focused last game," said Laimbeer. "We got good looks last game too. We just did not make a lot of open looks...Things did not go our way, but tonight we played a good solid mental game."

Charles played quietly in the first half, only made two of her eight attempts and shot one of two from the charity stripe.

"Nothing, tonight for me, was easy," said Charles. "I just was not satisfied with the way I played the first half. I thought I could have been smarter."

Yet, it was a climatic third quarter for not only the Liberty, but for Charles. Laimbeer's needs were met when Charles started the third with two back-to-back jumpers. Charles rhythm strengthened as her next three drives consisted of 15-foot field goals.

"Once I saw a couple shots go in at the 15 footer, I just got confident, and I kept attacking," said Charles. "If there is one person that tells me not to settle, it is Tanisha (Wright), I just kept attacking. I was in the zone."

Talk about shots favoring for New York, Charles went five for five in the first five minutes of the third.

It started to look like shooting drills.

The unstoppable made two more elbow shots to give a 60-48 lead, Stepping outside her red zone, Charles then out ran past her defender for a three-pointer at the top of the key. That's right, the 6'4'' made a 25-footer.

Charles ran back on defense with a huge smile. She knew her part in the team's win came from her strength, smarts and focus in the quarter. She went eight for ten, and helped her team extend from a seven-point lead to an 18-point clutch ending the third.

Charles ended the game an impressive 48%, making 10 of the 21 attempts. She also aggressively pulled down five rebounds for her team.

New York dominated the paint with 36 points to Mystics 10 points. With only eight turnovers, the Liberty outrebound Washington 33 to 24 and shot 48%. The Mystics did not even break 40%, shooting 22-57.

Charles dream was to win a WNBA championship in her hometown of New York, especially alongside teammate Epiphanny Prince, who scored 11 points in the win.

In order to fulfill the dream, Charles must always remind herself to stay in the zone and play like it's her last, even if Wright continues to ring her ears about it on Tuesday.

"We kept saying, there are no second chances. You do not get second chances in this time..." said Wright.