The New York Liberty stand at 7-7 Saturday morning after beating the Phoenix Mercury at Talking Stick Arena, 80-76, for their fourth straight win. It was also their third last minute win in the last four games.
It was a big night for Liberty power forward Tina Charles who had 23 points, 12 rebounds and four assists. One of those rebounds was Charles’ 3000th, making her the seventh WNBA player to reach that plateau.
And it was Charles who sank the shot that put Joe Tsai’s team up for good. Charles made a jumper with 50.9 seconds left for a 78-76 lead and Tanisha Wright sealed it with two free throws at 2.7. Other than a 74-58 win over the lowly Atlanta Dream, the Liberty’s recent wins have been close affairs. In their four-game streak, the Liberty beat the Wings, 69-68, a week ago Friday, then the Seattle Storm, 84-83, on Wednesday night, before Friday’s four-point win.
Kia Nurse led the Liberty with 26 points. Asia Durr, who the Liberty took with the second overall pick in the Draft, finished with 10, the other other New Yorker in double figures. The Liberty has been playing without two starters —center Amanda Zuhai B and point guard Bria Hartley, who are playing for Sweden and France in the FIBA Europe Women’s championships in Latvia and Serbia.
Brittney Griner scored 30 points and grabbed eight rebounds for Phoenix (5-6), which snapped a three-game win streak. DeWanna Bonner, the WNBA’s leading scorer at 20.2 points coming in, was 3-of-13 from the field and finished with just nine points. Griner scored 19 points in the first half to help Phoenix build a 41-40 lead after leading 17-4 early. Nurse had 17 points for New York to help bring the Liberty back.
New York has now won as many games this season as it did all of last year when the team went 7-27 in James Dolan’s last year as owner. Tsai bought the team in January from Dolan and infused it with cash and hired a new GM. The Nets minority owner is now looking for a new home for the Liberty who are forced to play in the antiquated Westchester County Center.
If the WNBA season ended today, the Liberty would be a playoff team.