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NEW YORK, Sep. 6, 2011 – A former No. 1 overall draft pick and one of the league’s top bench players – Tina Charles of the Connecticut Sun and DeWanna Bonner of the Phoenix Mercury – were named the WNBA’s Eastern and Western Conference Players of the Week, respectively, for games played Monday, Aug. 29 through Sunday, Sep. 4.
For Charles, the Player of the Week award is her fourth of the season and the fifth of her career. While Bonner earned the award for the first time in her career, she became the fourth Mercury player to be so honored this season, making Phoenix the first team in WNBA history with four different Player of the Week winners in one season.
Charles led the Sun to a 2-1 record and kept Connecticut in the hunt for the top seed in the East, just half a game behind leader Indiana. For the week, the 2010 WNBA Rookie of the Year led the league in blocks (2.67 bpg) while ranking second overall and tops among Eastern Conference players in rebounding (12.7 rpg). She also ranked fourth in the conference in scoring (16.7 ppg, eighth in the WNBA) and tied for third in assists (5.0 apg).
The former University of Connecticut star became just the fifth WNBA player to record a triple-double when she logged 10 points, 16 rebounds and 10 assists in a key win over conference rival Indiana on Sep. 2. Sandwiching that effort was a 16-point, seven-rebound, three-block outing at San Antonio, and a 24-point, 15-rebound peformance in a road win at Washington.
With two games left in the regular season, Charles, the league-leader with 21 double-doubles, is just one short of the WNBA record she set in that category a year ago. She also is the WNBA’s leading rebounder (11.0 rpg), ranks second in blocks (1.72 bpg) and is tied for fifth in scoring (17.7 ppg).
Bonner, the WNBA’s Sixth Woman of the Year in 2009 and 2010, was in the starting lineup for the Mercury’s first two games during the week, taking the place of forward Penny Taylor, who was sidelined by back spasms. In her first start of the season, the third-year pro out of Auburn led Phoenix to a 96-74 win over Tulsa by tying her career high of 25 points and adding nine rebounds. She followed that up with a 23-point effort at San Antonio for the first back-to-back 20-point outings of her career. The Fairfield, Ala., native then closed out the week by contributing 12 boards and nine points in a win over conference rival Los Angeles that gave Phoenix a 2-1 record for the week and secured a playoff berth for the Mercury.
For the week, Bonner ranked third in the WNBA and second in the West in rebounding (9.3 rpg) while her 19.0 ppg placed her fourth overall and third in the Conference in scoring. Among Western Conference players she also ranked fifth in three-point shooting percentage (.444 on 8-for-18 from behind the arc) and sixth in both field goal percentage (.514 on 19-for-37 from the field) and free throws (.917, going 11-for-12 from the line).
Other candidates for WNBA Players of the Week were Atlanta’s Angel McCoughtry, Chicago’s Sylvia Fowles, Los Angeles’ Candace Parker, New York’s Cappie Pondexter, Phoenix’s Diana Taurasi and Candice Dupree, Seattle’s Swin Cash, and Tulsa’s Tiffany Jackson.