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Turnovers lead to double-digit Liberty loss

Liberty center Tina Charles shoots the ball against

Liberty center Tina Charles shoots the ball against the Sun on Sunday at the Westchester County Center, in White Plains, New York. Credit: NBAE/Getty Images/Steve Freeman

WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. — If the Liberty don’t stop turning over the basketball, they’re going to turn over their shot at the playoffs.

They committed 17 turnovers Sunday at Westchester County Center, and the generosity led to 37 Connecticut points as the Sun sailed to a wire-to-wire 94-79 victory.

Courtney Williams had 28 points, seven rebounds and six assists for the Sun, who have won seven straight games and are a WNBA-best 16-6.

It was the Liberty’s third straight loss and sixth in seven games, dropping them to 8-13. They were coming off a 23-point loss to the lowly Dallas Wings on Thursday in a game in which they committed 22 turnovers that led to 30 points.

So what will coach Katie Smith’s message be to her players?

“Cannot turn the ball over,” she said, emphasizing every word. “Literally, in two games, we gave up 67 points off of turnovers. They just cough it up, turn it over. You have to handle the ball.”

Smith has delivered that message repeatedly this season. Still, the Liberty stand ninth and are two games out of the eighth and final playoff spot with 13 games left.

“It’s just believing the season isn’t over,” Tina Charles said after posting 20 points and 10 rebounds. “It’s believing that this isn’t just a summer job.”

The Liberty trailed 18-10 in the first quarter when Brittany Boyd checked in and quickly made a bad pass that led to Alyssa Thomas’ layup and a foul. Boyd bounced the ball into the air and got hit with a technical. She said it slipped though her hands.

“It’s my bad,” she said. “For myself, coming in, I have to be better, especially not turning the ball over and not giving them any free shots, knowing how good that team is.”

Jonquel Jones hit the technical before Thomas missed her foul shot, but Jones grabbed the rebound and passed to Jasmine Thomas, who nailed a three-pointer.

Six points in five seconds!

Down 17 early in the second quarter, the Liberty cut it to 39-32 before Williams scored nine in a 14-4 run that inflated the lead back to 17 late in the half.

“We are a championship team,” Williams said. “We just have to get back to the playoffs] and prove it.”

The Liberty got within 55-45 in the third quarter, then made a turnover leading to a basket. They got within 57-48, then made a turnover leading to a basket. And so it went. They fell into a 20-point hole in the fourth.

“I feel like we’ll be fine,” Boyd said. “We don’t need to get all crazy.”

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