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Tina Charles, Sugar Rodgers help Liberty beat Mystics in OT

The Liberty's Alex Montgomery is congratulated by teammates

The Liberty's Alex Montgomery is congratulated by teammates Plenette Pierson, left, and Tina Charles after she hit a halftime buzzer-beating three-point shot from halfcourt during a game against the Washington Mystics at Madison Square Garden on Tuesday, July 29, 2014. Photo Credit: Jason DeCrow

The first three-pointer the Liberty attempted Tuesday night came on Alex Montgomery's pull-up from the corner, and it came with 35 seconds left in the first half.

It seemed for a while as if the Liberty, chided by their coach after a blowout loss in which they were done in by poor perimeter shooting, were avoiding the long ball. There was no need, anyway, as Tina Charles dominated from mid-range and in.

But then came overtime. And with the score tied, Cappie Pondexter flipped a cross-court pass to Sugar Rodgers on the left wing . . . Fire away!

Rodgers drilled a three to put the Liberty ahead for good with 1:50 remaining in overtime as it beat the Mystics, 80-76, Tuesday night at the Garden.

The Liberty never trailed in regulation and led by 15, but Washington (13-14) rallied in the second half with North Babylon native Bria Hartley (11 points) forcing overtime. The former UConn star sank a driving layup with a second remaining to tie the score at 71.

Stefanie Dolson's hook shot gave the Mystics their first lead at 73-71 early in overtime. But Plenette Pierson tied it at 73 for the Liberty on a jumper with 2:30 left.

After her go-ahead three, Rodgers (10 points) hit an off-balance runner that pushed the lead to 78-73. Hartley made a three with 53 seconds left, but Washington (13-14) could draw no closer. Pierson hit two free throws with 9.9 seconds left to seal the win.

And so ended a wild contest that the Liberty controlled for almost its entirety, only to have it slip away in the fourth quarter. Nevertheless, the Liberty (11-14) won the fourth of its last five and snapped the Mystics' four-game win streak.

Having endured an up-and-down season, a most pleasing sight to Liberty fans might be the WNBA standings: If the season ended right now, the Liberty would have the fourth and final playoff berth in the Eastern Conference, percentage points ahead of the Sky, which they visit Thursday.

A pleasing sound Tuesday night, though, was the five-second snippet of the "Charles in Charge" theme song from the '80s sitcom that the PA cued up during the first quarter. The All-Star center scored 12 of her 23 points in the first quarter, staking the Liberty to an early 21-15 lead. Anna Cruz added 13 points and five assists, and Pondexter had 11 points and seven rebounds.

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