Hot teams collide as Liberty face Sun (Jun 13, 2017)

BY AP • June 13, 2017

Tina Charles and the New York Liberty are on a roll, winning the last four games on a five-game homestand.

The Connecticut Sun and Jonquel Jones are on a roll of their own, winning three of their last four after starting the season with four straight losses.

The teams meet at Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Conn., on Wednesday night.

Charles, the former Connecticut star who will enjoy her latest homecoming, averaged 19.5 points, 14.5 rebounds and 2.5 assists in two games last week, hauling down her 23rd Player of the Week honor with a pair of double-doubles.

The Liberty (6-3) are coming off a 94-86 victory over the Seattle Storm at Madison Square Garden, with Charles scoring 21 points and grabbing 14 rebounds. Sugar Rodgers also scored 21 and Shavonte Zellous 16.

The Sun (3-5) ended an eight-game losing streak against Atlanta with a 104-71 blowout of the Dream as Jones delivered 20 points and 14 rebounds, Shekinna Stricklen (four 3-pointers, 11 in the last three games) and Courtney Williams both scored 19 and Alyssa Thomas tied her season high with 18 points and added four assists and three steals.

Jones leads the league with 12.8 rebounds per game while Charles is third at 9.3 per.

"She is a very nice player," Atlanta coach Michael Cooper said of Jones. "She is the Moses Malone of the WNBA. She is definitely a person you have to box out all the time, and pay attention to, but the whole Connecticut team played well tonight."

The Sun played that game short-handed, with Morgan Tuck (knee), Lynetta Kizer (back) and Alex Bentley (away with the Belarus National Team) all missing. Tuck will be out Wednesday, while Kizer and Stricklen (ankle) will be game-time decisions.

The Liberty took advantage of their Madison Square Garden stay. Now, they play six of their next seven games on the road.

"The concentration level is the best thing for this basketball team right now," coach Bill Laimbeer said after the win over the Storm. "Every position, every player on the team is putting on their concentration cap when they come to work every. And it's showing.

"The mental part of games is three-quarters of the battle -- at least. And we're now experiencing a good mental stretch of playing basketball. And then the talent takes over. That's what's happening right now."

Like the Sun, the Liberty have been dealing with roster problems, winning without Brittany Boyd (Achilles tendon) and Epiphanny Prince and Kia Vaughn, both off on national team duty in the FIBA EuroBasket tournament.

"It showed us what we can do even if we don't have our full team," says New York center Kiah Stokes. "We had everybody step up. Everyone did more. Nobody tried to do too much, I think that's really important."


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