Charles helps Liberty beat Storm in OT
SEATTLE (AP) Tina Charles always makes sure she puts herself in the right spot for a rebound just in case teammate Cappie Pondexter misses a last-second shot.
Charles broke a tie with a putback after Pondexter missed with 23 seconds left in the New York Liberty's 84-80 overtime victory against the Seattle Storm on Thursday night.
''I know for sure we want to get the ball to Cappie because she makes a lot of last-second shots at the buzzer, and if it comes off I'm always going to try to crash the boards.'' Charles said. ''I went to my hook shot, and it went in.''
Pondexter scored 20 points, and Charles added 18 points and 14 rebounds to help New York (10-13) win its third straight. The Liberty, fighting for a playoff spot, have won six of eight after a 4-11 start.
''That describes our roles,'' Pondexter said about Charles' winning shot. ''I'm good at slicing to the basket and making things happen and she's a great rebounder. It was great to see. She had my back and I'm appreciative and we got the win, so it's all good.''
After Charles gave New York the lead, Pondexter added a basket just before the buzzer after Seattle missed two shots in the final 13 seconds and four in the final 1:20. Tanisha Wright hit a jumper to put the Storm up 80-77 with 2:50 left but they never scored again.
Pondexter hit a 16-footer with 11.9 seconds left in regulation to tie it at 75.
Camille Little scored 22 points, and Crystal Langhorne added 17 for Seattle (9-17). The Storm have lost four in a row and five of six.
Seattle guard Temeka Johnson had a triple-double with 13 points, 11 assists and a career-high 10 rebounds. She started in place of Sue Bird, sidelined by a strained neck.
Johnson became only the fifth WNBA player with a triple-double and the first for the Storm. She joins Margo Dydek, Lisa Leslie, Deanna Nolan and Sheryl Swoopes.
''I knew she really played well but I didn't have any idea of the statistics until after the game,'' Storm coach Brian Agler said about the 5-foot-3 Johnson. ''It doesn't really matter how you do that, whenever you can put those kind of numbers together it just shows that you played a very impactful game, and she really did.''
The Storm led by nine early in the second half. But Pondexter scored 13, including two 3s, in the third quarter to help rally New York to get within 63-62 at the end of the period.
New York coach Bill Laimbeer wasn't ready to call his team's play a turnaround yet.
''I don't know if we want to go that far,'' he said. ''I think that we're getting better. I think we are understanding who we are. We've got a long way to go still.''
But Laimbeer seemed pleased with a second straight road win after his club beat Los Angeles on Wednesday.
''Coming into this trip, we had six of seven games on the road, including three in the West against some quality teams,'' he said. ''We were scratching our heads wondering where we were going to get wins, and now we've gotten two out of two on the road with Phoenix next. We'll go see what happens.''
Shekinna Stricklen scored 11, and Little added 10 to help the Storm to a 45-41 halftime lead.