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Rodgers dazzles, lifts Liberty in teeter-totter match

The Liberty opened the second half of the season on a positive note, by beating the San Antonio Stars. Jayne Appel-Marinelli and Moriah Jefferson both had solid nights, however it couldn’t overcome the strength of Sugar Rodgers and Tina Charles’ rebounding for New York.

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San Antonio, TX — The New York Liberty had five of its players score in double digits on Friday night, resulting in an 84-77 victory over the San Antonio Stars.

Top scores for the Liberty included Sugar Rodgers, guard, with 18 points. Brittany Boyd, Swin Cash and Rebecca Allen also scored double figures for their team.

Tina Charles scored 13 points and 10 rebounds which moved her past Nykesha Sales for 30th place in WNBA History. She now has a total of 3,960 points.

Although New York dominated as a team, the Stars also lit up the scoreboard.

San Antonio’s Jayne Appel-Marinelli achieved a career high of 17 points by the end of the game. Other top scorers for the team included Moriah Jefferson with 16 points and Monique Currie with nine points.

The first quarter was close the entire time. The Liberty finished with a one-point lead against the Stars, 24-23.

Throughout the second quarter, the Stars and Liberty continued to keep a close game. They reached their ninth tie in the game at 42-42. With less than 20 seconds left in the half, Sydney Colson managed to get San Antonio a two-point lead, 46-44, with an assist from Currie.

During the first half, the Stars were shooting 51% from the floor, whereas the Liberty shot 59%.

New York did struggle in the half to hold onto the ball, allowing San Antonio to score 10 points because of their seven turnovers.

Top scorers during the first half included Appel-Marinelli with eight points, as well as Rodgers and Allen both had seven points for New York.

Appel-Marinelli said she is trying to become more aggressive offensively.

“We just really worked on that over the break, so just trying to take that roll it over and really apply it to these next, what do we have, 10 regular season games left,” said Appel-Marinelli.

Rodgers came to play in the third quarter, scoring a total of eight points for the Liberty. Astou Endor hit her second three-pointer, giving her a total of eight points, but New York steadily kept a lead against San Antonio.

With three seconds left in the third quarter, Boyd buried a jump shot giving the Liberty a nine-point lead against the Stars, 67-58.

Neither team led by more than four points until Rodgers hit a three with 2:20 in the third quarter to make it a 60-53 Liberty lead. There had been 21 lead changes and 12 ties to that point.

“Part of it was defensively. Part of it was our mistakes that led to their success scoring,” said Stars Head Coach Dan Hughes. “If you look, we didn’t turn the ball over one time in the first half, and yet in the second half we turned it over 11 (times) and they got 19 points (off turnovers); that’s a huge thing to overcome.”

He said they should’ve “handled the ball better,” a mistake that ultimately cost them the game.

With only six minutes left in the fourth quarter, the Liberty maintained a lead, 73-65. Although statistics gave the Stars an edge of 30-28 in rebounds and 8-5 in steals, they had a hard time keeping up with quick shots put up by New York.

New York finished the game with a seven-point lead against the Stars, 84-77.

“It was a game that was a little bit of a struggle. Up and down a lot,” said forward Amanda Zahui B. “As a first game back, we grinded through. The most important thing was coming to get the W, and that’s what we did.”

San Antonio hopes to end their six-game losing streak when they play against the Washington Mystics on Sunday evening.