The New York Liberty will honor one of their all-time greats and look to lock up a top-three seed in the playoffs on Wednesday night, when rookie star Breanna Stewart leads the Seattle Storm into Madison Square Garden.
With a win over the Storm, the Liberty (20-9) can finish no worse than third in the league standings. New York is coming off a bounce-back win against the Phoenix Mercury after absorbing a disappointing 98-77 loss to the Indiana Fever on Sept. 1.
Tina Charles scored 23 points, grabbed 15 rebounds and hit a career milestone in the Liberty's 92-70 blowout of the Mercury on Saturday. Charles reached 4,000 career points in the win and drew emphatic praise from her coach.
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“We talk about inside that she's the best post player in the world, men or women,” Liberty coach Bill Laimbeer said after Saturday's win. “She's that consistent and that dominant. There's more to her that we're waiting to see.”
The Storm (12-17) also are coming off an impressive win, 91-82 over the Dream at Atlanta on Sunday. Sue Bird scored 23 points and Stewart had 23 points, eight rebounds and six assists, continuing her standout rookie campaign. The leading Rookie of the Year candidate leads the Storm in scoring (18.2 points per game), rebounds (9.3 per game) and blocks (57).
Stewart will need to have another big game against the Liberty, who have won the last eight meetings with Seattle. The Storm's last win over New York came in August 2012.
Charles had 18 points in the Liberty's 78-74 win over the Storm on July 6 in New York. The Liberty jumped out to an 18-point lead but had to hold off a late charge from Seattle to secure the victory.
New York also won at Seattle this season, 86-78 on June 5.
The Liberty will hold a retirement ceremony for veteran Swin Cash after Wednesday's game. Cash, who was named one of the WNBA's 20 greatest and most influential players, has won three league championships and two NCAA titles during her illustrious career, which will conclude at the end of the season. The ceremony will take place on the court after the game.
Cash is averaging 5.2 points and 3.4 rebounds per game this season.