Liberty Take Down Champs

Tina Charles had a tough act to follow after scoring a season-high 28 points in her last game. Yet she managed to one-up herself, as her career-high 32 points propelled the Liberty (7-11) to its third straight win in an 87-80 victory against the Lynx (13-6) Sunday afternoon at Madison Square Garden.

Charles and Maya Moore went shot-for-shot early in the first quarter, with the stars keeping it a one-possession game for the first six minutes of action. Moore frustrated the Liberty defensively, scoring 11 in the first quarter on perfect 4-for-4 from the floor. Charles was virtually unstoppable in the paint on the offensive end, scoring 15 in the period. A flurry of triples from Minnesota late in the quarter gave the Lynx some breathing room, putting them up by seven after one.

After falling behind by 12 early in the second quarter courtesy of a Tricia Liston 3-pointer, the Liberty turned things around, going on a 17-4 run. Charles continued her dominance of the Lynx, scoring two of her 24 first-half points on a layup with 3:47 to play in the half that put the Liberty back in the lead. Increased defensive intensity from New York sent the teams to the locker rooms with the score knotted at 48.

The Liberty started the second half sluggish offensively, going almost four and a half minutes without a field goal before Plenette Pierson finally made a jump shot. Once head coach Bill Laimbeer went to a three-guard lineup with Cappie Pondexter, Anna Cruz and Sugar Rodgers, New York re-found its form on the offensive end. The Liberty rattled off a 10-0 run and scored 14 of the last 18 points in the period to take a four-point advantage into the final quarter.

The two teams traded hoops through much of the final quarter of play. Then Moore came back to life. After being held without a field goal in the second and third quarters, Moore scored 11 points in the fourth. Her layup with2:53 left cut the New York lead to just two, but that would be as close as Minnesota would get.

Charles was the high-scorer for the Liberty with her 32 points. Pondexter added 18 points and a season-high 11 rebounds, and Pierson and Cruz each chipped in 10 points. Moore finished the game with 25 points for the Lynx.

The Liberty take to the road this Wednesday to face the San Antonio Stars at 8 p.m.