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Zellous accepts challenge with sheer ‘determination’

New York was able to hold off Dallas Friday night and it was anything but easy. Tina Charles and Shavonte Zellous both had monsters games and every basket they scored was needed to defeat the Wings.

Ned Dishman/Getty

New York, NY — Dallas Wings forward Karima Christmas-Kelly started off Friday night’s game against the New York Liberty with an injury to her nose and an early timeout, and the hits just kept on coming for Dallas. The Liberty pulled off a 93-89 win.

“I thought we played really well, we just left a lot of things on the boards. Rebounding gave [New York] second effort opportunities but when I looked at it, [Tina] Charles had a good outing as well as [Shavonte] Zellous,” Dallas Head Coach Fred Williams said.

“When it came down to it, it’s all about rebounding and boxing out. We talked about that with our post players and we just didn’t get to some of those loose balls to generate some offense.”

Dallas came into the game at 3-2 after a home win against the Indiana Fever Tuesday night. The 2-3 Liberty lost their match against Los Angeles earlier this week 90-75.

New York proved that they learned from their Tuesday night mistakes in Friday’s game, giving Dallas a tough opposition through all four quarters. The Liberty came into the night at a disadvantage. The team needed to pull off a win in lieu of the absences of Brittany Boyd, who was injured early in the season, and Epiphanny Prince and Kia Vaughn, who are competing overseas in the EuroBasket.

Despite those players missing, veteran Shavonte Zellous had her best offensive game to date in a Liberty uniform. She went off for 27 points, eight rebounds and dished out three assists.

“All this week in practice my teammates and the coaching staff told me I needed to continue to be aggressive. I notice the first couple games I wasn’t being as aggressive and helping my team but, it was just determination from myself that I need to do more in order for us to win,” said Zellous on her performance.

Sugar Rodgers got into foul trouble in the first half, forcing Lindsay Allen to step in and run the offense. But New York never let the Wings get a run. Their defense showed up and contained Dallas’ high-speed scorers, and with every lead the Wings had, the Liberty clawed their way back to the top.

High-scorer Tina Charles put up 14 points in the first half, not quite reaching her 19-point first half in Tuesday’s game. But she avoided getting into foul trouble tonight and pulled off her second double-double of the year. Her second-half contributions are what ultimately pulled off the win for New York.

With the Liberty turning the ball over 10 times by the end of the second quarter, they found themselves down at the half 50-45. Charles came back and scored 22 points in the second half, nearly half of her team’s total.

She finished with a new career-high, 36 points and pulled down 10 rebounds.

“She has a lot of quality games under her belt. It was a win we needed and she willed us down the stretch and made some really big buckets, but that’s what her job is,” said Liberty Head Coach Bill Laimbeer of Charles.

“She’ll tell you the same thing if you ask her. Even though she had a career high, it’s just one ‘W’ in the season and there are more games to be had; 36 is a bunch.”

The Wings Allisha Gray, May’s Rookie of the Month, put up a strong fight yet again, bringing the fire and attacking at-will. She was the third highest scorer on her team tonight with 15 points on the board. Dallas stayed on the attack with Skylar Diggins-Smith and Theresa Plaisance putting up 19 and 18 points, respectively.

It was a nail-biter through the final buzzer, with the Liberty up most of the fourth quarter and the Wings trailing not far behind. New York made critical shots to put them up by four in the final seconds of the game.