Charles scores 28 to help Liberty beat Wings 91-88
NEW YORK (AP) With the game on the line, the New York Liberty used their stingy defense to pull out a victory.
Tina Charles scored 28 points, Sugar Rodgers added 18 and Kiah Stokes had three big blocks in the final few minutes to help the Liberty beat the Wings 91-88 on Tuesday night.
''We made the big plays down the stretch and Kiah Stokes made some phenomenal defensive plays,'' Liberty coach Bill Laimbeer said.
The first 20 minutes of the game were a track meet with New York taking a 56-50 lead at the half. The lead grew to 10 before Dallas rallied to take a four-point advantage in the fourth quarter. That's when Stokes started blocking shots.
''Kiah showed us she could do that last year and is a tremendous help defender,'' said Charles, who broke an 85-85 tie with a jumper from the top of the key with 40 seconds left.
New York led by three with 13 seconds left after Shoni Schimmel hit two free throws giving Dallas one last chance to tie the game, but Odyssey Sims' 3-pointer was blocked with a few seconds left and the Liberty ran out the clock.
''I thought we fought pretty hard tonight,'' Dallas coach Fred Williams said. ''We just didn't have some shots go down when we needed them in that last four-minute stretch. We had a few possessions in a row when we came out empty. The young ladies keep fighting and battle.''
Dallas (3-7), which is 10th in the AP WNBA power poll, has lost six straight games.
The fourth-ranked Liberty (6-4) have won three of their past four games.
Dallas rallied from a 10-point deficit to take an 80-76 lead midway through the fourth quarter. New York answered with seven straight points, including a 3-pointer by Rodgers after an emphatic block on the other end by Stokes that made it 83-80. Karima Christmas' 3-pointer with just over 2 minutes left tied the game at 85.
Christmas scored 21 points and Sims added 19 for the Wings.
Skylar Diggins played in her third game this season and started for the first time. The Wings star guard had just one point in 24 minutes as she's still working her way back from an ACL injury she suffered last year.
''It's going to take her four or five games to get back into the flow,'' Williams said. ''Every game she'll get closer to where she was.''
This was the first game that Dallas had its entire roster healthy and able to play. Midway through the second quarter, the Wings lost Christmas for the rest of the half when she got the wind knocked out of her. Her replacement Erin Phillips did what she could to keep the Wings in the game, scoring nine straight points, including a four-point play.
Dallas had no answer for Charles, who matched Phillips, scoring 10 straight points - including back-to-back 3s. She was 3-of-4 from behind the arc.
New York led 56-50 at the half. The Liberty built the lead up to 64-54 before the Wings rallied.
Tuesday's home game was a pit stop in New York for the Liberty. They head back out for another three-game road trip with stops in Connecticut, Indiana and Atlanta.
The Liberty held a moment of silence before the game for the Orlando shooting victims. When the moment was finished, the Liberty's mascot waved a rainbow flag at center court.
Tanisha Wright became the 11th player in league history to earn 2,500 points, 1,100 assists and 1,000 rebounds when she grabbed a rebound early in the first quarter.