Charles scores 31 to lift Liberty over Sparks

LOS ANGELES (AP) Tina Charles had 31 points and 15 rebounds to lead the New York Liberty to a 66-64 win against the Los Angeles Sparks on Wednesday night, spoiling the coach debut of Penny Toler.

Cappie Pondexter scored 16 points as the Liberty (9-13) snapped an eight-game road losing streak.

The Sparks played without leading scorer Candace Parker, who sat out with a left knee strain and is considered day-to-day, a team spokeswoman said.

Charles scored on a jumper to give the Liberty a 66-62 lead and blocked Jantel Lavender on the Sparks’ next possession. The Sparks pulled to 66-64 when Nneka Ogwumike scored on a baseline jumper. Plenette Pierson missed two free throws to give the Sparks a chance to win or tie, but Kristi Toliver missed a 3-point attempt and Lavender missed the putback.

Ogwumike led the Sparks (10-13) with 23 points and eight rebounds and Lavender had 16 points and eight rebounds. Toler was named interim coach in addition to her general manager duties Sunday after former coach Carol Ross was fired.

Pondexter made back-to-back long jumpers to give New York the lead for good at 64-62.