NEW YORK, N.Y. – SEPT. 3, 2016 – Tina Charles posted her 17th double-double of the season and eclipsed 4,000-career points to lead the New York Liberty (20-9) past the Phoenix Mercury (13-16), 92-70, on Saturday night at Madison Square Garden.
Charles finished with 23 points and 15 rebounds, becoming the 29th player in WNBA history to reach 4,000 points, the sixth fastest, and third youngest, to do so. Only Lauren Jackson and Diana Taurasi were younger when they reached 4,000 points.
The Liberty are now one win away from clinching a top-four seed in the WNBA Playoffs, and the first round bye that comes with it. Reaching 20 wins, New York has now posted consecutive 20-win seasons for just the second time in franchise history, the last coming in 2000-01.
Sugar Rodgers scored 19 points and buried four 3-pointers, moving into a tie for Shameka Christon for the most 3-pointers in a single-season in franchise history with 78, which leads the WNBA this year.
Brittany Boyd, starting a second-straight game at the point, poured in a season-high 19 points, finishing a handful of tough and-one’s at the rim, also dishing out six assists with two steals.
The Liberty were off to a very slow start offensively, trailing 4-3 through four minutes of action, but eventually ended the opening period on a 16-2 run to take a commanding lead. Charles scored 14 of her game-high 23 in the first, capping off an impressive stretch with a 3-pointer at 1:50 to push the New York advantage to 23-14.
That double-digit lead was maintained throughout the second quarter thanks to Boyd, who had seven points in the period while dishing out two of her assists, as the Liberty took a 48-34 advantage into the locker room after limited the Mercury to just 30.6 percent from the field.
Phoenix would rally. Once trailing 68-42 midway through the third, the Mercury used a 20-5 run to pull to 73-62 with over eight minutes remaining, but the gap never closed further. Rodgers scored on consecutive possessions to put the Liberty back up by 15, and the lead was 20 once again as Boyd completed a 3-point play out on the break, drawing contact from Marta Xargay at the rack to put New York on top 87-66.
Xargay led the Mercury with 16 points, one of four in double figures for Phoenix. However, the Mercury were limited to just 32.8 percent from the field and 17.3 percent (4-of-23) from 3-point range.
New York returns to action on Wednesday, Sept. 7, when it hosts the Seattle Storm at Madison Square Garden at 7 p.m. Immediately following the game, the Liberty will hold an on-court retirement ceremony for forward Swin Cash, who has announced she will call it a career after 15 incredible WNBA seasons.
• Tina Charles became the 29th player in WNBA history to score 4,000 career points, doing so on a jumper when she was fouled with :59 left in the 2nd quarter. She is the 6th fastest (226 games) and the 3rd youngest (27 years, 273 days old). Only Lauren Jackson and Diana Taurasi were younger when they reached 4,000 points.
• Sugar Rodgers hit 4 3-pointers to tie the Liberty single-season record (78) she also leads the WNBA in 3-pointers this season.
• Tina Charles recorded her 17th double-double of the season with 23 points and 15 rebounds.
• The Liberty has posted back-to-back 20 win seasons for just the second time in franchise history and the first since 2000, 2001.
• The Liberty is now 16-1 when leading after the 1st quarter.
• Brittany Boyd finished with a season-high 19 points, starting for a 2nd straight game.