MINNEAPOLIS, MINN. – JUNE 29, 2016 – Behind a career-high 30 points from Sugar Rodgers, the New York Liberty erased a 15-point deficit in the fourth quarter with a 17-2 run to end regulation, coming back to beat the defending WNBA Champion Minnesota Lynx, 95-92, in overtime on Wednesday night at the Target Center.
The Liberty was without leading scorer and rebounder Tina Charles, who missed the game after undergoing a reduction procedure to repair a broken nose suffered on June 22 at Atlanta.
It was Charles’ first absence since becoming a member of the Liberty, and the first regular season game she missed since Sept. 15, 2013.
After leading by two at the half, the Liberty saw Maya Moore come out and dominate the 3rd quarter, scoring 16 of her 24 points to put the Lynx up by 12 heading into the final period.
New York’s deficit ballooned to 81-66 approaching six minutes to play in regulation, but that is when the momentum shifted and the Liberty flipped the script, coming all the way back to force overtime.
Brittany Boyd started the big run, using a crossover on Renee Montgomery at the top of the key, the driving through the paint for two, a seemingly inconsequential basket at the time, making the score 81-68.
The Lynx had trouble finding a rhythm down the stretch, turning the ball over six times in the fourth quarter, and the Liberty was able to capitalize.
Four-straight points for Amanda Zahui B, who finished with a career-high 15 while making the first start of her WNBA career, made it a 9-point game, and then Rodgers struck from downtown, pulling her team within six.
Minnesota scored just two points over the final 6:18, a Lindsay Whalen jumper at 2:45, to make it 83-77.
Two possessions later Shavonte Zellous sunk an 18-footer, setting up an opportunity for New York to tie the game, and they capitalized, with Tanisha Wright finding Rodgers for a triple to knot the score at 83-83.
Overtime started as a back-and-forth affair before the Liberty eventually pulled away. Rodgers’ record-tying seventh triple pushed the New York lead up to five, its largest advantage since the second quarter, and Zellous got in on the 3-point action, nailing a trey with under a minute remaining to ice the game.
Rodgers hit her first four 3-point attempts of the game and finished 7-of-13 from 3-point range and 11-of-24 from the field. Zahui B shot 6-of-12 and pulled down nine boards, tying a career-high. Zellous was the third player in double figures, scoring 15 points, and Kiah Stokes was one point shy of a double-double finishing with nine points and 11 rebounds.
Rodgers powered New York to a nine-point advantage early on, nailing three 3-pointers in the first five minutes of action, the last of which was from way beyond the arc out on the wing, resulting in a 15-6 lead for the Liberty.
Minnesota took its first lead as Keisha Hampton connected for two at the line at 8:31 in the 2nd, only it was short lived, thanks to strong play from both ends by Zahui B. Following her third blocked shot of the half, the Liberty took its largest lead of the game, 36-26, as Zellous was able to get to the rack for two in transition.
The game tightened by halftime, and then Maya Moore took over in the third. She was limited to just two points in the first half, but scored on the first three possessions of the third quarter, and in all tallied 10 points in fewer than 3:30 as the Lynx built an eight point, 62-54 lead, that expanded to 72-60 heading into the fourth.
The Liberty continues its three-game road trip at Phoenix on Friday night. Tipoff is scheduled for 10 PM (ET).
• Tina Charles missed her first game as a member of the New York Liberty and her first regular season game since Sept. 15, 2013
• Sugar Rodgers tied New York’s single-game record with 7 3-pointers and scored a career-high 30 points
• Amanda Zahui B made her first-career start and finished with a career-high 15 points and tied her career high with nine rebounds
• The Liberty played in their franchise record sixth overtime game of the season and are one OT game shy of tying the WNBA single-season record
• New York has seen four of its last five games go into overtime
• The Liberty is now 7-1 on the road this season and 4-4 at Madison Square Garden
• New York has won its last two games at Minnesota, its first consecutive road wins against the Lynx since 2010-11