LOS ANGELES (AP) - Tina Charles had 20 points and 13 rebounds, and the Connecticut Sun controlled the fourth quarter to beat the Los Angeles Sparks 79-70 on Wednesday.
It was the fourth straight double-double and 12th of the season for Charles, the reigning WNBA rookie of the year.
Renee Montgomery hit four 3-pointers and scored 16 points for the Sun (12-6), who used a 12-0 run to start the fourth in winning for the sixth time in seven games.
Connecticut won its third straight on the road after starting the season 1-5 away from home. The triumph moved the Sun within one game of first-place Indiana in the Eastern Conference.
``This is the only team I think we've trailed against at halftime both times and won,' Connecticut coach Mike Thibault said. ``Just to kind of stick with it shows how much our defense is improving.'
Tied 56-56 heading into the fourth, Charles hit a free throw and later added a pair of jumpers during the run, resulting in a 68-56 lead. The Sun's defense held the Sparks scoreless for 4 1/2 minutes.
``We always try to start with the defense, especially on the road,' Charles said. ``It starts with rebounding, boxing out and all those little things. And we were able to do that.'
DeLisha Milton-Jones had 14 points to lead the Sparks (7-12), who were playing the first of a season-high, six game-homestand. Tina Thompson and Ebony Hoffman scored 13 points apiece.
Milton-Jones hit a jumper to end the Sparks' scoring drought and followed with a layup on the next possession to cut it to 68-60 with 4:57 left. The Sparks trailed 71-65 after Kristi Toliver's 3-pointer with 3:08 remaining, but Charles answered with a jumper.
Charles, who recently earned her first All-Star selection, leads the league with 10.6 rebounds per game. She had just seven points and six rebounds at halftime before asserting herself down the stretch.
``My team was down, I just want to win. I'm really competitive,' Charles said. ``I want to let my team know that I'm there for them and I just want their respect.'
Montgomery had missed her last 11 shots from 3-point range coming in. She hit three 3s in the second quarter, the last of which put the Sun ahead 33-32 after they trailed by as many as nine.
Since winning the first two games under Joe Bryant, the Sparks have dropped six of their past seven. Bryant took over as head coach for Jennifer Gillom on July 10.
Jenna O'Hea gave the Sparks their biggest lead at 25-16 when she was fouled while making a layup with 7:44 left in the second. The Sparks shot 50 percent in the first half and led 40-35 at the break.
The Associated Press News Service
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