Charles helps Liberty beat McCoughtry and Dream 79-72

WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. (AP) Tina Charles helped the New York Liberty get a much-needed win.

The Liberty’s star scored 29 points to help the team overcome a strong effort from Angel McCoughtry and beat the short-handed Atlanta Dream 79-72 on Tuesday night.

”It was a much-needed win being that we had just lost a couple of games,” Charles said. ”The defensive effort is what carried us throughout the game. Katie (Smith) put an emphasis on taking a step up on the defensive end.”

New York got off to a strong start, leading 17-6 after the first quarter as the Dream struggled to hit shots. Then McCoughtry took over. She finished with a career-high 39 points. She was 19 for 22 from the foul line – both career bests. McCoughtry also had 14 rebounds for the Dream.

The Liberty (4-6) were cruising early in this game, up 16 points in the first half before McCoughtry got going for the Dream. She had 23 points combined in the second and third quarters to rally the Dream (6-6). Her pass led to a three-point play for Damiris Dantas that tied the game at 47 in the third quarter.

”She’s a very great player. She knows how to draw fouls and get to the basket,” Charles said. ”She played like Angel McCoughtry should.”

The Liberty were up 50-49 heading into the final period and Charles led a 15-6 run to open the quarter. New York’s star had five points during the burst and Atlanta could never get closer than five the rest of the way.

Things got a little testy in the final few minutes when Kia Nurse and Jessica Breland got tied up going for a rebound. Officials had to step between Breland and Kia Vaughn, who was defending her teammate. Both were assessed technical fouls.

”I love the heart of the team, how we played,” McCoughtry said. ”We showed a lot of heart, and going forward we showed we have what it takes.”

McCoughtry sat out last season to rest and is still learning about her teammates’ tendencies.

”Angel was incredible and I really feel like she would have been close to a triple-double if we had made some open shots,” Dream coach Nicki Collen said. ”For the first time since she’s put on a Dream uniform since she’s back with us, she was able to get in the lane and kick it out for open shots.”

The Dream were missing Tiffany Hayes and Brittney Sykes, who are both in walking boots. Hayes injured her left ankle in a loss to Indiana and Sykes has missed five games with an injured right foot.

”Crazy proud of the effort. We were not playing with a full deck,” Collen said. ”We looked atrocious in the first quarter. … To tie it up after scoring six points in the first quarter I was really proud of them. The ball just didn’t go through the orange hole.”

FOUL FEST:

The teams combined to commit 48 fouls and attempt 54 free throws. There were also three technical fouls.

DISHING IT OUT:

New York backup point guard Brittany Boyd had a career-high 11 assists for the Liberty. She also had three rebounds, but was scoreless from the field.

UP NEXT:

Dream: Host Connecticut on Friday before heading out for three more road games

Liberty: Head out for two-game road trip in Las Vegas and Los Angeles.