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Tina Charles

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Tina Charles in Beast-Mode as Liberty Beat Washington

There is not so much a sense of urgency, but a knowing that with Tina Charles leaving for the 2016 Olympics in August, it would be preferable to start the season as strong as possible. Last night in Washington D.C, Charles did her part as she stamped the letter emphatically with an impressive double-double to lead New York to an 87-76 win.

Charles dominated the paint with 24 points and 11 rebounds. Charles recognizes that as she reaches up to her full potential, her team will be that much closer to the lofty heights established by last seasons 23-11 season. “I know I am relied upon a lot here, so I just want to continue being depended on, and just gain my teammates respect and trust out there,” Charles pronounced.

She got the necessary secondary scoring support from the bench in the form of Sugar Rodgers, who added 19 points and four steals along with three treys from the pine. Her exhaustive gym work continues to keep Rodgers at a high level as she showed signs that she will be a major piece to this year’s puzzle.

But the difference one notices already from the start is the sharing of the ball. The Liberty added players like Shoni Shimmel and Lindsey Harding, who both are excellent passers. Harding had seven assists this evening. The team tallied 23 in total resulting in 32 field goals.

The game was close until the the fourth when New York used a 8-0 run on the strength of a three-point play by Charles and an assist from Charles to fellow big Kiah Stokes, who was streaking to the basket to lay it up for a 78-73 lead at that point.

But New York’s hallmarks are its defense and rebounding. They outscored the Mystics 42-22 inside while defending with their trademark tenacity. Stokes blocked three shots tonight. The Liberty kept the Mystics from completing a single field goal in the final 2:54 of the game. Tanisha Wright and Shavonte Zellous, who both possess size and quickness only add defensively to the vision that Head Coach Bill Laimbeer has established as a “winning culture.”

Laimbeer prepares for tonight’s home opener in Madison Square Garden against the Dallas Wings knowing that the Liberty have already re-established in the new season the grit necessary to pull out tough games on the road as well. “I thought out team held together,” Laimbeer explained. “Washington put us on our heels a little bit there. We recovered, and we got a good win.”

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