UNCASVILLE, Conn. (AP) - Tina Charles has played 70 games in the WNBA and has reached double figures in both points and rebounds 47 times.
Charles had 25 points and 11 boards Sunday as the Connecticut Sun beat New York 92-77, opening the season with back-to-back wins against the Liberty.
Charles, who shot 11 for 15 from the floor, scored 18 points in the second half as the Sun rallied from an early 11-point deficit.
``It's definitely maturity,' Charles said. ``Especially the core players of this team, just us playing together for three years, we know where we are going to be. We believe in each other and know we can dig ourselves out of this.'
Asjha Jones, who also is Charles' teammate on the U.S. Olympic squad, added 20 points and eight boards for Connecticut, which beat the Liberty in New York on Saturday to open the season. Renee Montgomery had 15 points and six assists.
Cappie Pondexter scored 18 points for New York and Plenette Pierson added 16.
Connecticut, 15-2 at home last season, hasn't lost to the Liberty at Mohegan Sun Arena since the 2008 playoffs.
``They are a great team,' said Pondexter. ``They've got two Olympians, and it's tough to beat a team that has been together for a while. I think they are the favorite to win the East.'
Charles, who is in just her third season, needs just three more double-doubles to tie the team record, a mark it took Taj McWilliams-Franklin 241 games to set. If she gets four rebounds in her next game, she'll reach 800 for her career faster than any player in WNBA history. Yolanda Griffith had 800 in her first 72 games.
``When we have a team like this and a group of girls that believe in you and give you confidence, especially with the coaching staff, it makes (the game) easier,' Charles said.
New York scored the game's first eight points and opened with a 13-3 run. The Sun hit just one of their first nine shots and made three of 18 in the first quarter. They trailed by 11 early and 24-15 after a quarter.
Connecticut used a 10-2 run to cut the deficit to three points, before New York stretched the lead again. Charles, who faced double teams every time she touched the ball, didn't score her first points until midway through the second period.
Connecticut used free throws to steadily climb back into the game, and closed the quarter on a 14-3 run that turned a 37-30 deficit into a 44-40 halftime lead.
The Sun also trailed by nine points Saturday before coming back to win.
``There are going to be points in the game when you are struggling,' Jones said. ``But we're doing a good job right now just sticking with it and picking it up on defense. So, the last two games, that's what we've done.'
The Sun hit just 10 of 23 shots from the field in the half, but made 23 of 26 free-throw attempts. New York had just eight shots from the line, hitting five of them.
Liberty coach John Whisenant responded to that disparity by picking up a technical foul, the only one on Sunday after the teams combined for four on Saturday in New York.
After scoring just seven points in the first half, Charles had eight in the third quarter as the Sun extended their lead to 67-59.
She started the fourth quarter on the bench and New York cut pulled to 69-67 on a three-point play by Essence Carson. But once Charles returned, the Sun pulled away, outscoring the Liberty 23-10 the rest of the way.
The game marked the start of the Sun's 10th season in Connecticut since moving from Orlando.
The Associated Press News Service
The Associated Press
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