WASHINGTON (AP) - Tina Charles had 24 points and 15 rebounds to lead the Connecticut Sun to a 79-48 victory over the Washington Mystics on Sunday.
Charles has 21 double-doubles this season, one short of the WNBA record she set last year en route to winning the Rookie of the Year award. Connecticut (20-12) has two games left this season.
``Tina Charles is certainly a forced to be reckoned with,' Mystics coach Trudi Lacey said. ``She is a legitimate candidate for MVP. I would definitely say that.'
Making her first seven shots and reaching her double-double before halftime, Charles had a nearly flawless start to the game.
Her biggest gaffe was mistakenly beginning the game in her spare jersey. She didn't notice until the 'C' fell off the back fell in the first quarter, causing her teammates to caller her ``Tina Harles.' At a stoppage later in the quarter, she changed into her regular road uniform.
The switch didn't slow her or her team.
Connecticut opened the game on an 11-0 run and led by at least eight the rest of game, although Washington didn't stay that close for long. A 10-0 run in the second quarter and a 17-4 run to end the third quarter extended Connecticut's lead even further.
The Sun's victory, their largest of the season, snapped a four-game road losing streak and puts them a step closer to catching the Indiana Fever, who play at the Chicago Sky on Sunday, for the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference playoffs. The win also helps Connecticut fend off the New York Liberty and Atlanta Dream for the No. 2 seed and home-court advantage in the first round.
As the Sun aim for better playoff position, Charles isn't focused on breaking her record.
``I was just doing my job,' Charles said. ``I want to be there for my team offensively and defensively. My job is to get rebounds, and it leads to our transition and everything. So, I just go out there with the mindset just to try to get them all.'
Although Charles was missing her 'C' for part of the game, she brought all her 'D. She helped hold Mystics All-Star forward Crystal Langhorne to just 10 points on 4-of-13 shooting. Langhorne hadn't scored so few points since she scored nine against the Sun on June 16.
Washington set season lows for points (48) and field-goal percentage (26.9) - both lows for Connecticut opponents this year, too. Monique Curry led the Mystics (6-26) with 13 points.
``I think we are physically and mentally tired,' said Lacey, whose team has played its third game in four days.
Asjha Jones recorded her sixth double-double of the season with 16 points and 10 rebounds for Connecticut.
The Sun swept the four-game season series against the Mystics by a combined 62 points.
Connecticut's Danielle McCray scored 13 points, and Renee Montgomery had seven assists.
The Associated Press News Service
The Associated Press
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