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Tina Charles has another big game but losses mounting for Liberty

WNBA

Tina Charles, the WNBA’s leading scorer moved into 15th place on the league’s career scoring list Saturday, dropping 15 points for New York, but her team dropped its 15th straight game and second this season to the Indiana Fever, 92-77, in Indianapolis. The Liberty shot just 22% in the first half and finished at 35%.

Of the 15 losses, 13 came at the end of last season, but in addition to their 0-2 start, the Liberty lost three straight preseason games. The team’s only taste of victory since last July 15 was a win on May 9 vs. the Chinese Women’s National Team at Barclays Center.

Charles, the Liberty’s All-Star, scored on a putback with 8:35 left in the fourth to hit the milestone. The basket gave the 10-year pro out of UConn 5,469 points, surpassing Angel McCoughtry. Charles is averaging 23.5 points a game, tops in the WNBA.

The game got out hand early. The Fever scored the first 11 points of the game and made 11 -of-16 shots in the first quarter to lead 26-7. The Liberty were 2-of-22 in the period. It was 45-29 at the half, the largest halftime lead for Indiana since leading the Liberty by 30 late in the 2016 season.

Kia Nurse added 14 and the Liberty’s two rookies combined for 19 points. Asia Durr, the overall No. 2 pick in the WNBA Draft, finished 12 points on 4-of-12 shooting and Charles’ 6’9” back-up, Han Xu, had seven points in 11 minutes, hitting all three of her shots.

In a big positive for the Liberty and WNBA, announced Friday, Durr and Nurse became the first WNBA players to sign with Nike’s Jumpman brand since 2011.

Indiana (2-1), which beat the Liberty (0-2) 81-80 in the season-opener last weekend when rookie Teaira McCowan made a layup at the buzzer, was never challenged.

Kelsey Mitchell hit five 3-pointers and scored 23 points to lead Indiana while Tiffany Mitchell scored 11 points. Erica Wheeler, who became the 12th Indiana player to surpass 1,000 points, and Paris Kea had 10 each. The Pacers finished at 52% (34-of-65) from the field after shooting 63% in the first half.

The game drew 5,003 fans to the Bankers Life Center in Indianapolis, the same venue where the Pacers play. The Liberty, who remain stuck this season at the 89-year-old Westchester County Center, are looking for a bigger venue for 2020.