NEW YORK, N.Y. – SEPT. 2, 2016 – The New York Liberty will look to bounce back when it hosts the surging Phoenix Mercury at Madison Square Garden on Saturday night at 6 p.m. The Liberty is coming off a loss at Indiana on Thursday, while the Mercury will be playing a back-to-back, traveling down to NYC after a game at Connecticut on Friday evening.
It will be the first home game for New York since the WNBA season resumed following a break for the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio, and the Liberty’s first home title since July 21. Tina Charles was a member of the U.S. Women’s gold medal winning team, along with Mercury players Diana Taurasi and Brittney Griner.
Charles, widely considered to be one of the frontrunners for the 2016 WNBA Most Valuable Player Award, has seen her game pick up right where she left off in July, posting double-doubles in back-to-back games with 22 points and 11 rebounds at Indiana on Thursday. She is just 18 point shy of 4,000-career points (she would be the 29th player in league history to reach that milestone) and leads the WNBA in rebounding (9.7 rpg) and is second in scoring (20.1 ppg).
• Despite another double-double for Tina Charles, the Liberty fell to the Indiana Fever on Thursday night at Bankers Life Fieldhouse 98-77. Charles led the way with 22 points, 11 rebounds and 6 assists, while Brittany Boyd also scored in double figures (10 points). The Liberty was without Tanisha Wright, Kiah Stokes, and Shoni Schimmel due to injury.
• Rebecca Allen made her first-career start on Thursday night at Indiana, finishing with 7 points, a 3-pointer, and a pair of blocked shots. Over the last four games, Allen is averaging 10.8 ppg and shooting .727 (8-of-11) from 3-point range.
• The Liberty has qualified for the 2016 WNBA Playoffs in what will be its 14th postseason appearance in franchise history. New York is currently in 3rd place overall, 1st in the Eastern Conference, needing two wins in order to secure a bye into the second round of the playoffs.
• New York and Phoenix have split their two meetings so far this season, with the Mercury winning an overtime thriller at The Garden on June 26, with the Liberty bouncing back to win on the road five days later, 99-88. Tina Charles is averaging 29.6 ppg against the Mercury this season, and her 31 points in the win on July 1 matched a franchise record for most points in a game against Phoenix.
PLAYER TO WATCH
Tina Charles is closing in on another career milestone, as she needs just 18 points to become the 29th player in WNBA history to score 4,000-career points.
In the midst of a career offensive season, Charles is second in the WNBA averaging 20.1 ppg, and his scored 20 points 14 games, which equates to half of the games New York has played this season. Going back to before the Olympic break, Charles has posted a double-double in five of her last six games played, and has 16 double-doubles this season.
Tine Charles tied for the team lead with six assists on Thursday night, continuing an overall trend of increased efficiency distributing the basketball. Charles now leads the Liberty with 3.8 apg, which ranks 12th in the WNBA and is a 1.4 per game increase from her 2015 season.
Sugar Rodgers needs just four more 3-pointers to tie the Liberty’s single-season record of 78, set by Shameka Christon. Rodgers has 74 3-pointers, which ranks second in the WNBA, and she is fourth in the league shooting .433 from long distance this season.