Liberty force third game with 86-68 win over Mystics
WASHINGTON (AP) Tina Charles wasn't about to let the New York Liberty's season end.
Charles scored 17 of her 22 points in the third quarter to help the Liberty beat the Washington Mystics 86-68 on Sunday and even their best-of-three Eastern Conference semifinals series at one game apiece.
''I just wasn't satisfied the way I played the first half,'' said Charles, who only had five points in the first half. ''I thought I could have played smarter. Once I saw a couple of shots go in, I just got confidence and kept attacking. ... So I just kept attacking, I was in a zone and I played like it was my last. That's all I kept saying, `We want to see Tuesday.'''
The two teams will play the decisive Game 3 on Tuesday in New York.
Charles hit shots from all over the court in the third quarter, including a 3-pointer. She helped New York extend a seven-point halftime lead to 18 by the end of the third quarter.
''We made shots, we executed our defensive assignment like we were supposed to, and Tina had a big third quarter to put the game away,'' New York coach Bill Laimbeer said.
Washington, which never led in the game, couldn't get much closer in the final quarter.
''I only have one word - embarrassing - so go ahead,'' said Washington coach Mike Thibault with a short opening comment after his team was overwhelmed inside by the Liberty 36-10.
Tayler Hill led the Mystics with 19 points, hitting six 3-pointers - five of them in the first half.
Unlike Friday night's game that went to double overtime after New York squandered a 10-point first quarter lead, Washington never threatened.
''I thought we played focused,'' Laimbeer said. ''We played focused last game, unfortunately things just didn't go our way. Tonight, we played a good, solid mental game.''
New York controlled the boards, shot 13 of 15 from the free throw line, and dominated the paint. The Liberty will be trying to win their first playoff series since 2010. Washington hasn't advanced out of the conference semifinals since 2002.
''You win playoff games with rebounding, turnovers and free throws and we lost two of those very badly,'' Thibault said.
The Mystics could have been down a lot more in the first half had Hill not hit five 3s. Washington shot 62 percent in the first half behind the arc to keep the game close. New York clamped down on the 3-point shooting in the second half.
Carolyn Swords added 12 points for New York before leaving the game with an injury. Epiphanny Prince added 11. Sugar Rodgers, who went to school in Washington at Georgetown, had 15 points off the bench.
Ivory Latta, who hit a big 3-pointer to help Washington win the opener of the series, added 15 for the Mystics. No one else was in double figures for Washington.