SAN ANTONIO, TEXAS – AUGUST 26, 2016 – A big third-quarter run powered the New York Liberty to an 84-77 victory over the San Antonio Stars in the first game back after a five-week hiatus for the 2016 Summer Olympics on Friday night at the AT&T Center.
The Liberty (19-8) used a three-point barrage late in the third to break open what had been a tightly contested back-and-forth affair to that point. It was Sugar Rodgers providing the initial scoring burst, hitting a 17-footer and corner three on consecutive possessions to lift New York to its largest lead of the night, 60-53.
A few minutes later, Rebecca Allen dialed up her second make from long-distance, capping an 11-2 burst that resulted in a 65-55 advantage.
Prior to that ultimate deciding scoring run, neither team had led by more than four points, and there were 21 lead changes and 12 ties.
Rodgers finished with a game-high 18 points, nailing three 3-pointers, improving her league-leading 3-point tally to 73 this season, by far a career best. Tina Charles posted her 15th double-double of the year with 13 points and 10 rebounds.
Brittany Boyd (11 points) and Allen (10 points) also scored in double figures for a balanced Liberty team.
Guard Epiphanny Prince made her season debut for the Liberty, after missing the first 26 games of the season while she recovered from offseason knee surgery. She checked into the game with 15. 2 remaining in the 1st quarter for her first action of the season, and finished with five points, an assist and a steal in 7:20 of action.
It was the same steady attack the Liberty had come to rely on all season during the first quarter, as seven different players recorded at least one field goal. The second quarter saw the lead change nine more times, 18 total in the first half, as San Antonio (5-19) took a 46-44 lead into the intermission behind 52.8 percent shooting from the field and a game-high 11 points from Moriah Jefferson.
Down nine heading into the fourth quarter, the Stars were never able to get much momentum in terms of a comeback, pulling within six on multiple occasions, but never any closer than that.
New York limited San Antonio to just 27.6 percent shooting in the second half, forcing 11 turnovers which turned into 13 points the other way. Jayne Appel-Marinelli led the Stars with 17 points.
The Liberty returns to action at Indiana on Thursday, Sept. 1. Game time is scheduled for 7 p.m.
• Tina Charles scored 13 points to move past Nykesha Sales for 30th place in WNBA History (3,960 points now for Charles).
• Charles also hauled in 10 rebounds to post her 15th double-double of the season.
• Epiphanny Prince checked in for the first time this season with 15.2 remaining in the 1st quarter. She missed the first 26 games of the season after suffering a torn ACL while playing for her international club Dynamo Kursk in the Russian Premier League in November 2015. She finished with 5 points.
• Neither team led by more than four points until Rodgers hit a three with 2:20 in the 3rd quarter to make it a 60-53 Liberty lead. There had been 21 lead changes and 12 ties to that point. That came as part of what proved to be a decisive 11-2 Liberty run.
• New York has swept the season series with San Antonio for a second year in a row and has now won five straight against the Stars
• Sugar Rodgers hit three 3-pointers on Friday and leads the WNBA with 73 3-pointers this season, five shy of tying the Liberty single-season record of 78.