Charles, Wiggins lead New York Liberty past Sky 89-81
ROSEMONT, Ill. (AP) — Tina Charles had a season-high 26 points, 11 rebounds and five assists, and Candice Wiggins hit all five of her 3-pointers, to lead the New York Liberty to their first win over the Chicago Sky in three seasons, 89-81 on Tuesday night.
Wiggins finished with 15 points as New York’s bench outscored Chicago’s reserves 34-7, ending a 10-game losing streak to the Sky that dated back to Aug. 21, 2012.
Elena Delle Donne, who leads the league at 29 points a game, finished with 26 but was only 8 of 20 from the field. She went 10 of 10 from the foul line, running her streak of consecutive free throws to 58, eight shy of Eva Nemcova’s WNBA record set in the 1999 and 2000 seasons. Delle Donne, who also had 13 rebounds, is now the single-season record holder, passing Lindsay Whalen’s previous mark of 54 straight. Courtney Vandersloot added 14 points and 10 assists.
It was the first meeting of the season between the teams that engineered the biggest trade of the offseason as each team sent a former Rutgers star home. Chicago (5-5) got six-time All-Star Cappie Pondexter while two-time All-Star Epiphanny Prince went to New York (6-4).
However, Prince, who replaced the graduated Pondexter in the Scarlet Knights’ backcourt for the 2006-07 season, was just a spectator from the bench in her first game with the team after playing in the EuroBasket Women 2015 Tournament. Pondexter had 19 points.
New York outscored Chicago 21-11 in the second quarter when the Sky, the highest scoring team in the league at 85 points a game, made just 3 of 18 field goals to finish the half at 29 percent. A late 3-pointer from Wiggins made it 48-36 at the break.
The Liberty scored the last four points of the first quarter for a 27-25 lead and then had the first nine of the second quarter, capped by a 3-pointer from Wiggins to lead 36-25. Brittany Boyd had six points during the run. Betnijah Laney ended a drought of 7:22 with a long jumper.
Free throw shooting kept the Sky close. They made their first 12 before a late miss by Vandersloot.
Chicago started the second half with a 14-5 run and cut the deficit to 58-56 on a Vandersloot 20-footer at 4:22. Tanisha Wright answered with a 3-pointer to start a 7-0 Liberty run and they closed the quarter with a 15-5 surge that included Wiggins’ third 3 and another from Sugar Rodgers that made it 72-61 heading to the final period.
Twice the Sky got within six, once with a chance to cut it to four, but Rodgers hit a clutch 3 with 2:23 left to end the threat.