Tina Charles' 28 points leads Liberty to back-to-back wins

spLIB02 Freelance

Liberty's Plenette Pierson (33) and Alex Montgomery (21) celebrate with teammate Tina Charles (31) after Charles scored and drew a foul against the Tulsa Shock during the first quarter of a game at Madison Square Garden on Tuesday, July 1, 2014. Photo Credit: Jason DeCrow

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When the Liberty acquired her in the offseason, Tina Charles envisioned games where she'd lead the Liberty in points and rebounds as the Madison Square Garden crowd roared with her every touch of the basketball

The hometown star imagined games where she'd guide the Liberty to a much-needed win.

A game like last night.

The 6-4 center led all scorers with a season-high 28 points and 14 rebounds, and Cappie Pondexter added 21 points, five assists and four rebounds as the Liberty defeated the Tulsa Shock, 90-74, to claim back-to-back wins for the first time this season.

"There was a sense of urgency to win," said Charles, a Queens native. "Those type of games feel good, but we're going to try to remain humble while building confidence."

Point guard Anna Cruz added 17 points, five rebounds and five assists. The Liberty (6-11) led throughout and outrebounded the Shock 45-27.

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After being held to only three points in the first half, Tulsa's leading scorer Skylar Diggins exploded for 16 points in the third and got the Shock (6-10) to within 62-58 with 35 seconds left in the quarter. DeLisha Milton-Jones responded with a layup on the Liberty's final possession of the third.

Charles then further extended the lead and momentum. First came an offensive rebound, which led to an easy layup. Then came a pumped fist and jubilant yell.

With that, the Liberty pulled away and enjoyed an 8-0 run within the first three minutes of the fourth quarter. The Liberty outscored the Shock 26-15 in the fourth quarter.

"A two-game winning streak doesn't mean that much to us right now," coach Bill Laimbeer said. "If we continue to work this hard, good things will happen -- if we keep our brains on."

A negative trend for the Liberty heading into action had been poor starts. That wasn't the case Tuesday night, though, as the Liberty led 46-35 at the half.

Charles, whose previous season high was 25 points (a mark she hit three times), scored the first seven points of the game as the Liberty opened with a 9-0 run and held Tulsa scoreless for the first four minutes of the first quarter.

The Liberty will end its five-game homestand Sunday against Minnesota.

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