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Unstoppable Charles jolts Liberty to 3rd straight win

Tina Charles put on show Thursday night against the Connecticut Sun, leading the New York Liberty to their fifth win in their last six games. The Liberty are now only a half-game behind the Eastern Conference-leading Atlanta Dream.

Chris Poss - Swish Appeal

Uncasville, CT -- Tina Charles dominated throughout against her former team, mainly on the offensive end, where the Connecticut Sun had no answer any time she touched the ball. After scoring 28 points in her last game against Dallas, Charles consistently poured in 32 points Thursday night, as the New York Liberty held off the Sun, 80-72.

"Tina Charles has been finding her rhythm all year long," Liberty coach Bill Laimbeer said. "She's the most consistent player in this league. You know every night what you're going to get from her, and tonight was no exception."

Despite both teams shooting near 50 percent for much of the game, the Liberty, who entered the game leading the league in rebounding, were in control thanks to their work down low. New York out-rebounding the Sun by 11, but Connecticut was able to keep the deficit manageable down the stretch.

The Sun tied the game at 70 on an Alex Bentley three-pointer from the wing, but were never able to take the lead in the second half. Bentley picked up her play when it mattered most, scoring ten of her team-leading 16 points after halftime.

"We just have to execute better," Bentley said. "(We have to) make sure we run our plays right, set better screens, take better shots and also, defensively, box out."

After falling behind by as many as 11 points in the third quarter, Connecticut was able to battle back and entered the fourth quarter trailing by four. To get that 11-point cushion in the third, the Liberty rattled off eight-straight points, only to see the Sun answer with an eight-point spurt of their own.

Both teams shot it particularly well in the first half, making more than 48 percent of their shots, but it was a dominant performance offensively by Charles throughout that separated the Liberty. Charles converted post move after post move, scoring 17 of her 32 in the first 20 minutes.

"(Tina) made a lot of big baskets," Sun coach Curt Miller said. "I thought we defended her well at times, and she made just incredibly tough shots.

"I told our team, I see growth. Tonight, I thought we executed a lot of the game plan. We were really competitive inside. We just knew we were going to have make some threes against this team to get them spaced out, and we just didn't come up with enough plays."

Morgan Tuck, who started the game in place of the injured Alyssa Thomas, was the bright spot for the Sun in the first half. Tuck had a team-high seven points at the break and missed the only shot she took in the second half.

New York has now has won five of their last six games, including three straight, after starting the season 2-3.