NEW YORK, N.Y. – JULY 13, 2016 – The New York Liberty extended its winning streak to four in a row with an 86-62 victory over the Atlanta Dream on Wednesday afternoon at Madison Square Garden to improve to 16-6 overall and open up a 4.5 game lead in the WNBA Eastern Conference.
The battle between the top two teams in the East swung with a huge Liberty run to start the third quarter, as in fewer than five minutes New York turned a 10-point halftime advantage into a 54-31 lead, thanks to a 15-2 run to open the period.
Tina Charles led the way coming out of the locker room, scoring eight of her game-high 18 during that stretch, and Sugar Rodgers provided the exclamation point, burying a triple to make it 51-31.
Despite leading by just 10 at the break, the Liberty completely dominated the first half of the game. Following a low-scoring first quarter, New York’s second unit powered a 13-5 surge to open the second period, opening up a 27-18 lead as Rebecca Allen buried a 3-pointer.
The Liberty scored 20 bench points in the first half, finishing with 47 bench points overall, and New York was ferocious on the glass, outrebounding the Dream 25-14 with 11 offensive rebounds, leading to a 12-0 advantage in second-chance opportunities.
Neither team committed many turnovers, but the Liberty made Atlanta pay every time, turning six giveaways into 14 points the other way.
Thanks to the large lead, none of the Liberty starters played during the fourth quarter, while New York’s second unit was able to maintain the large advantage down the stretch.
Amanda Zahui B scored all nine of her points in the fourth, with Adut Bulgak adding six and Allen chipping in with a couple of field goals.
The Liberty returns to action on Friday night when faces the second-place Minnesota Lynx in a pivotal matchup. New York currently trails the defending champion Lynx by a game and a half in the standings, and Friday night’s winner will have the potential tiebreak for postseason seeding. Tipoff is scheduled for 8 p.m. (ET).
• The Liberty improves to 16-6 for the second year in a row which ties for the best record through 22 games in franchise history (2015, 2001)
• The Liberty held Atlanta to just .299 shooting, the lowest opponent FG% of the season for New York
• 23 points is the largest margin of victory over Atlanta in team history
• The Liberty scored a season-high 28 second-chance points with a season-high 21 offensive rebounds.
• Tina Charles led the way with 18 points and nine rebounds and did not play in the 4th quarter
• New York (16-6) will face Minnesota (17-4) on Friday night in Minneapolis, their final meeting of the year after splitting the first two games of the season. The winner will have the tie breaker in what figures to be a fight for the No. 2 seed in the WNBA playoffs and a bye into the semifinals down the stretch.
• The Liberty is now 13-1 when leading after the first quarter.
• Rebecca Allen scored a career-high 11 points and scored in double figures for the first time in her career.
• New York opened the 2nd half on a 15-2 run to open a 20-point lead after being up 39-29 at the break