Charles Paces Liberty in 87-76 Win at Washington

WASHINGTON, D.C. – MAY 14 – Tina Charles posted a double-double with 24 points and 11 rebounds, and Sugar Rodgers chipped in 19 points with three 3-pointers as the New York Liberty pulled away from the Washington Mystics for an 87-76 victory in its 2016 season opener on Saturday night in Washington, D.C.

New York broke open a tie game with an 8-0 run late in the fourth quarter to secure the win. Charles completed a 3-point play, then found Kiah Stokes streaking to the basket on the next possession to make it 78-73.

The Mystics failed to score a field goal over the final 2:54 as New York edged them 14-3 over that span.

After trailing 28-21 after the first quarter, the Liberty controlled the game the rest of the way, outscoring the home town Mystics 66-48 over the final three periods.

New York overcame that early disadvantage to knot things up at 45-45 heading into the half, and then naturally it was Charles that took over, scoring nine-straight Liberty points, capped off by a 3-point play, to make it 58-52 with 2:07 left in the third.

The Liberty never led in the first half, but after taking its first lead on a Rodgers bucket a little over three minutes into the third quarter, New York did not trail again.

Lindsey Harding finished with a game-high seven assists in her Liberty debut, also scoring six points. Stokes had six points and three blocked shots, while Tanisha Wright scored nine and Shavonte Zellous posted eight points. Tayler Hill nailed four 3-pointers to post a 20-point game for the Mystics.

The Liberty returns to action on Sunday night for its 2016 home opener at Madison Square Garden against the Dallas Wings at 5 p.m.

The Liberty shots 47.8 percent (32-of-67) from the field and outscored the Mystics 42-22 in the paint.

New York had 23 assists on its 32 made field goals, and four players, Harding, Charles, and Brittany Boyd, had at least three assists.

The Liberty committed just five turnovers while forcing 14, and were +9 in points off turnovers, outscoring the Mystics 14-5.

Despite grabbing just five offensive rebounds, the Liberty was efficient with its extra opportunities, posting 13 second-chance points.

After scoring eight points on Saturday night, Zellous is just one point shy of 2,000-career points.