NEW YORK, N.Y. – JUNE 9, 2015 – The Liberty returned to its home court in style on Tuesday night, using a big second-half surge to pick up an 86-79 victory over the Indiana Fever to improve to 2-1 on the season.
New York was led by Tina Charles’ 21 points, four rebounds and four assists; she has led the way in all three games this season. Essence Carson finished with 14 points, 11 of those coming in the first half, including shooting 3-of-3 from behind the arc. Tanisha Wright also continued to impress with 12 points and five dimes.
She was the player that Head Coach Bill Laimbeer went to late in the game to command the offense. Kiah Stokes also added 11 points, scoring in double-figures for the first time in her WNBA career, and had 3 blocked shots, continuing her productivity on the defensive end for the Liberty.
Indiana was led by Layshia Clarendon who finished with 14 points in the game. Tamika Catchings made her season debut and had a quiet 13 points.
The Liberty did not have the offense clicking in the first half, shooting just 42-percent from the field, making 13-of-31 attempts. New York went to the locker room down 41-38, after a shot clock violation and a jumper by Clarendon to end the 2nd quarter.
But everything changed in the third. The Liberty went on an 18-4 run to start the 2nd half, using a variety of offensive weapons in the effort.
Wright was the floor general. She had a hand on 12 of those 18 points, hitting a jumper, a three-pointer and assisting Stokes, Carson and Charles for their buckets. She also scored the final Liberty points, slicing into the lane for a layup, before the Fever finished the quarter on a three from Shenise Johnson.
The Liberty held a comfortable lead for the rest of the game, and the closest Indiana would get the rest of the way was the final margin of seven points.
Laimbeer went with the line up of Wright, Brittany Boyd, Swin Cash, Charles and Sugar Rodgers to secure the win down the stretch. Charles had nine of her 21 in the fourth, two of which came on a sweet pass in the paint from Cash in the opening minutes of the third. Charles also got the crowd of MSG roaring with a short hook shot in the paint for an and-1.
The exclamation point on the victory came with 1:42 remaining in the four. New York led by 11 and Natalie Achonwa put up a shot only to see Stoke emphatically swat it out of bound for her third stuff of the game.
New York continues its four-game home stand on Thursday, June 11, when it will be right back at Madison Square Garden to host the Phoenix Mercury. Tipoff is scheduled for 7 p.m.
- For the third-straight game, Tina Charles led New York in scoring, finishing with 21 points, four rebounds, four assists and three steals in 30:09.
- Charles turned in the first 20-plus point performance for the Liberty this season and is now averaging 18.7 points, 8.0 rebounds and 3.3 assists per game.
- Rookie guard Brittany Boyd made her first-career start, and finished with eight points and tied for a game-high five assists.
- Rookie center Kiah Stokes scored in double figures for the first time in her career, finishing with 11 points, she also pulled down a team-high six rebounds and blocked three shots.
- Stokes is now averaging 2.3 blocks per game.
- New York trailed by three at the half, but outscored Indiana 24-13 in the third quarter and 48-38 in the second half.
- The Liberty shot 57.1 percent (16-of-28) from the field in the second half, limiting Indiana to 37.1 percent (13-of-35).
- The Liberty entered the game with four-made 3-point field goals through its first two games but shot 5-for-12 (.417) from 3-point range against the Fever.
- Tamika Catchings made her season debut for Indiana and finished with 13 points and seven rebounds in 21:59.
- The Fever shot 8-for-18 (.444) from 3-point range, led by Shanise Johnson who shot 3-for-4 from long-distance.
- New York won the points-off-turnovers battle 24-16 and is now 2-0 when leading in points off turnovers.
- The Liberty were out rebounded 33-27, but outscored Indiana 38-24 in the paint.
- New York dished out 23 assists on 29 made field goals.