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NEW YORK (AP) — Tina Charles wasn't going to let the New York Liberty head into the All-Star break on a down note. Especially with a five-game road trip looming.
The star center had 28 points and 17 rebounds to help New York beat the Connecticut Sun 96-80 on Wednesday in a matinee game.
"This is a team you want to eyeball. You might see them later in the season," Charles said of the Sun, who had beaten the Liberty twice this season. "It's sweet that everyone had an imprint on this one."
Charles scored 10 points in the third quarter, showing off a dazzling array of moves in the post as the Liberty (10-9) turned a four-point halftime lead into a 20-point advantage. It was her ninth double-double of the season and the second consecutive double-digit win for New York.
"That's my job. I love to show what I'm able to do night in and night out," Charles said. "I know the success I have individually makes the game so much easier for my teammates. I'd rather take the pressure and make everyone at ease."
Connecticut (12-9) had won six of its last seven games. Jonquel Jones had 14 points and 10 rebounds to lead the Sun.
"It's just one game, we'll take a couple of days and regroup and get ready for the rest of the season," said Jasmine Thomas, who is headed to the All-Star Game this weekend for the first time in her career.
Energized by a huge camp day crowd of 17,443 at Madison Square Garden, both teams came out strong on offense. The game was tied at 24 after one quarter and the Liberty led 45-41 at the half.
Charles had 12 points and 11 rebounds in the opening 20 minutes. The Liberty's Shavonte Zellous also had 12 points at the half and finished with 16. She went 11 for 11 at the line.
Connecticut coach Curt Miller will be in charge of the Eastern Conference All-Stars in Seattle on Saturday in place of New York's Bill Laimbeer . Laimbeer's wife contracted a virus while in Africa on vacation and was hospitalized for a few days. Laimbeer decided to spend time with his wife, who is recovering. New York hits the road for two weeks after the All-Star Game.
HEY NOW, YOU'RE AN ALL-STAR
Sugar Rodgers is the All-Star replacement for Washington's Elena Delle Donne. The WNBA made the announcement before the game. Rodgers also will compete in the 3-point contest on Saturday. She'll join Charles in representing the Liberty. Connecticut has three All-Stars: Jones, Alyssa Thomas and Jasmine Thomas.
The crowd was the biggest at the Garden since a camp day game in 2015 against San Antonio that drew over 18,000.
Sun: Connecticut plays five of its next six games at home after the All-Star break. The Sun host Chicago on July 25.
Liberty: New York begins a five-game road trip at Minnesota on July 25.
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