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Tina Charles passes team milestone in Liberty’s loss

Becomes second player in club history to surpass 3,000 points.

New York Liberty forward Tina Charles looks on

New York Liberty forward Tina Charles looks on during a free throw by the Chicago Sky during a WNBA basketball game at Westchester County Center on June 29. Photo Credit: Kathleen Malone-Van Dyke

WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. — The Liberty has been hoping to make a run at the playoffs, but the team keeps running in the wrong direction.

Tina Charles scored 22 points and became the second player in Liberty history to surpass 3,000. But Elena Delle Donne scored 30 and grabbed 10 rebounds to power Washington to a 95-78 win Saturday at Westchester County Center.

Vickie Johnson scored 3,246 during her Liberty career.

So those playoff hopes are fading. The Liberty has dropped three straight to fall to 7-17, leaving it five games out of the WNBA’s eighth and final playoff spot with 10 to play. It won its final 10 last season to finish 22-12 and grab the third seed. But it hasn’t given a hint that it’s capable of that kind of consistent run. Its longest winning streak is two games.

“It’s going to be rough to try to get in,” coach Katie Smith said. “But I think for us, it’s going out every night and being proud of what we did that night and proud of how we played, proud of our effort. It’s tough to win in this league anyway.”

Sugar Rodgers added 16 points, including four three-pointers, for the Liberty. Charles also contributed five rebounds and five assists to the cause. Kristi Toliver chipped in with 19 points for the Mystics (14-10).

Washington led by as many as 12 in the first quarter and 11 in the second quarter before settling for a 43-35 halftime advantage. Delle Donne, who went 12-for-16 from the floor and had four threes, scored 15 of her 19 first-half points in the opening 10 minutes.

The Mystics outscored the Liberty 32-18 in the third to go up 75-53 and made it a 24-point game early in the fourth. Charles and Kia Nurse (10 points) led a comeback, helping the Liberty chip its deficit down to 81-70. But that’s as close as it got.

“Excellent effort in the fourth quarter by all who came in,” Smith said. “ . . . Maybe we can bottle that up and get four quarters of that.”

Both Shavonte Zellous and Epiphanny Prince sat out for the Liberty after suffering injuries in Thursday’s loss at Atlanta. Zellous is on crutches due to a sprained right ankle and Prince has a right eye contusion.

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