The Liberty remained the WNBA’s hottest team Sunday, forcing a season-high 23 turnovers and getting 22 points from Tina Charles in a 92-62 win over the Chicago Sky at Madison Square Garden.
It was the eighth straight victory for the Liberty (20-12), the second-best winning streak in franchise history behind 10 straight in 2010.
The victory gave the Liberty at least 20 wins for the third straight season, a franchise record.
But the afternoon’s milestones took a back seat to the No. 1 goal for this confident group — its first WNBA title.
“Franchise this, franchise that,” coach Bill Laimbeer said. “The only thing that matters is that there’s no championship banner hanging.”
The Liberty, which clinched at least the fourth seed and a first-round bye, is a half-game behind Connecticut (20-11) for the third seed. Whether the Liberty finishes third or fourth, it will play in the single-elimination second round Sept. 10 at the Garden, where it owns seven consecutive victories.
The Liberty won’t mind skipping that first round, also a single-elimination event.
“That’s really important,” said Charles, who had eight rebounds. “The way we’re playing, I wish we had more games [only two remain]. Maybe we could’ve climbed into the top two teams . . . We started off uncertain. Hopefully, we can finish off unforgettable.”
With the first basket of the day, Charles passed Chamique Holds claw, another Queens native and former Christ the King great, for 20th in WNBA scoring history.
The lead over Chicago (12-19) was 20-16 with two minutes left in the first quarter. Then the Liberty went on a 16-2 run, and it was apparent that the Sky was falling.
“Our defense creates our offense,” Sugar Rodgers said.
Rebecca Allen started it with a steal, leading to a jumper by Bria Hartley. When Allen drilled a 17-footer, the Liberty led 36-18 with 4:28 left in the second quarter.
Stefanie Dolson scored 22 points, including Chicago’s last 11 before halftime, but the Liberty remained in control and brought a 46-29 lead into the second half.
The margin swelled to 32 points in the fourth quarter, and the Liberty bench scored 43 points. It led Dolson to say, “They’re a talented team. They’re tough, strong. They have great shooters around Tina. I’m sure they’ll make the playoff games very exciting to watch.”