Liberty Rolls Past Tulsa Shock
NEW YORK - Tina Charles got the Liberty going and then Cappie Pondexter took over to help the team to its first winning streak of the season.
Charles scored a season-high 28 points and Pondexter added 21 to help New York beat the Tulsa Shock 90-74 on Tuesday night.
Charles, who also had 14 rebounds, had 20 points in the first half before Pondexter scored 13 after the break for New York (6-11).
''Tina Charles set the tone early in the game and did what she was supposed to do, score buckets for us,'' Liberty coach Bill Laimbeer said. ''She was very engaged.''
Tulsa (6-10) trailed by 11 points at the half before Skylar Diggins rallied the Shock to 62-58 with 36.5 seconds in the third quarter. The Liberty then scored the next 10 points to put the game away. Pondexter had an acrobatic three-point play where she flipped the ball over her head and was fouled.
''I didn't even think it was going to go in,'' Pondexter said, smiling. ''It was great we answered their run and took control of the game.''
On the next possession Sugar Rodgers followed with her own three-point play that made it 72-58. Tulsa could only get within 11 the rest of the way.
Diggins finished with 23 points, including 20 in the second half.
''I was trying to be more aggressive and get different looks,'' Diggins said of her second-half play. ''That was our problem. We weren't aggressive until the third quarter. Got more finishes, more fast-break points. That's when we're playing our best basketball.''
New York has won three of its last four games and will finish off a five-game homestand on Sunday against defending champion Minnesota.
This was Tulsa's third game in four nights. The Shock lost to both Los Angeles and Phoenix in overtime over the weekend.
Diggins refused to use that as an excuse.
''You have to credit New York,'' she said. ''We were well prepared for this game.''
Six of the 10 Shock losses this season have been by four points or fewer. Over the past 1 1/2 seasons, Tulsa has lost 15 of its 32 games in overtime or by four points or fewer. That's the most in WNBA history over a two-year span according to STATS.
The Shock got off to a slow start missing their first nine shots and trailed 9-1 before Odyssey Sims hit a tough shot on the baseline. Charles had seven of the Liberty's first nine points.
She was just getting started.
New York led 30-29 before going on a 16-6 run to close the half. Charles got it started with a three-point play and had five points during the burst. Anna Cruz had seven points during that spurt as New York led 46-35 at the half, shooting 56 percent from the field. Cruz finished the game with 17 points.
Diggins, who came into the game second in the league in scoring at 20.7 points, rallied the Shock in the third quarter scoring 16 points. She had an array of baskets some of which drew cheers from Cleveland Cavaliers star guard Kyrie Irving, who was at the game. He wasn't the only NBA player in the crowd. New York Knicks players Iman Shumpert, Tim Hardaway Jr., Cleanthony Early and Shane Larkin were also at the game.
The Liberty haven't lost at home to Tulsa since 2008 when the franchise was in Detroit.