NEW YORK, N.Y. – AUGUST 21, 2015 – Behind 25 points from Tina Charles, the New York Liberty picked up a 78-67 win over the Atlanta Dream on Friday night at Madison Square Garden. After improving to 18-7 for the first time in franchise history, the Liberty also saw its magic number for a playoff berth drop to four thanks to Connecticut’s loss at Tulsa.
After leading by one at the break, New York seemed to be in trouble early in the third quarter as Atlanta opened the second half on a 12-2 run, grabbing a 48-39 lead as Shoni Schimmel intercepted a Brittany Boyd pass and found Damiris Dantas on an outlet for an easy two.
That momentum shift would not last, and it was Boyd playing an integral roll in a swift turnaround. She assisted baskets on three-straight possessions, finding Epiphanny Prince for a 16-foot jumper to cut the Dream lead down to one.
Two possessions later Charles stroked a 14-footer to give the lead back to New York and from there the Liberty was off to the races.
After falling behind by nine, New York outscored Atlanta 39-19 the rest of the way as the Dream saw its field goal percentage plummet all the way to 35.8 percent while being held below 70 points for just the fourth time this season; two of those performances have come against the Liberty.
New York was in front by three heading into the fourth and quickly saw its advantage expand to double figures. Boyd drained a long three from the top of the key near the end of the shot clock to make it 57-51, and Charles converted again with yet another smooth jumper, this time a 17-footer that make it 63-53.
Atlanta was unable to draw closer than five the rest of the way as the Liberty managed to match each big shot with a make of its own. A Tiffany Hayes 3-point play was answered by a Boyd drive to the basket on the ensuing possession.
Twice the Dream pulled within five, and both times Charles had the answer. After Schimmel drained a 19-footer, Charles was able to score in the post with a feed from Kiah Stokes, sparking the decisive 8-0 run to put the game out of reach.
Prince joined Charles in double figures for New York, finishing with 18 points and three 3-pointers. Stokes had eight points and nine rebounds with a pair of blocked shots, and Carolyn Swords scored nine points with seven rebounds.
McCoughtry was limited to 13 points, her fourth lowest scoring effort of the year. Sancho Lyttle finished with 17 points to lead the Dream.
Atlanta led 18-16 after a back-and-forth first quarter of action, then stretched its lead to 28-21 early in the second, opening up a three-possession advantage as Hayes drove the lane for two.
Charles answered on the other end, taking a pass from Swin Cash to finish in the paint and begin a 9-2 Liberty run. Swords scored on consecutive possessions, hauling in a pass from Cash each time to help New York draw within one. A minute later Prince drilled a triple and the score was knotted up at 30-30, before the Liberty took its one point lead into the locker room.
New York returns to action on Sunday evening when it faces the Indiana Fever at Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis, Ind. Tipoff is at 6 p.m. and the game will be broadcast on MSG Network.
New York Liberty Postgame Notes
- The Liberty improved to 18-7 for the first time in franchise history.
- New York’s .720 winning percentage is the best in the WNBA.
- The Liberty’s magic number for a playoff berth is now four.
- Tine Charles scored 18 of her game-high 25 points in the second half.
- New York closed the game on a 39-19 run after falling behind by nine points in the third quarter.
- The Liberty are the best defensive team in the league and limited the Dream to just 35.8 percent shooting while Atlanta was held below 70 points for just the fourth time.
- Kiah Stokes continued to make a case for Rookie of the Year finishing with eight points, nine rebounds and two blocks.
- The Liberty had 21 assists on 30 made baskets.
- New York improved to 9-4 this season at Madison Square Garden.