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New York Liberty come back from 17 down to earn first win (Highlights)

Down 17 after the first quarter, the New York Liberty earned their first win of 2018 in style, headlined by a Tina Charles double-double.

The New York Yankees weren’t the only New York team to pull an epic comeback on a team from Texas on Tuesday night.

Tina Charles tallied 34 points and 10 rebounds, while Shavonte Zellous added 19 points, including the three-pointer that put the New York Liberty ahead for good, as they earned a 94-89 victory over the Dallas Wings. It capped off a hard-fought comeback for New York, who trailed by as many as 17, and by as much as 12 in the fourth quarter.

The wins served as a series of firsts for the Liberty (1-2), who earned their first win of the season, the first win at Westchester County Center, and the first win of head coach Katie Smith’s coaching career.

“For (the players), the work they put in, I’m just happy for them to get this thing done today,” said the victorious Smith. “It’s pretty cool, it’s unreal. These guys make it pretty special. I’m pumped. They put up with me, and I take care of them. For my first win, I’ll take it.”

Three Stars

3rd Star: G Bria Hartley

It feels wrong to leave out any one of the Liberty’s super subs, as the team picked up 30 points off the bench (led by Kia Nurse’s 11). But Hartley, who fouled out early in the fourth quarter, was integral in the comeback, dishing out six assists. Hartley’s final act before her fifth foul set the pace for an epic fourth quarter, as a three-point buzzer beater cut the Wings’ lead to single digits entering the final stanza.

2nd: G Shavonte Zellous

Zellous wasn’t afraid to get gritty for the Liberty, and her overaggressiveness almost cost her. In an eventful second quarter stretch, Zellous was called for a double technical along with Liz Cambage. Concluding the first quarter with 10 points, Zellous wound up making the biggest shots for the Liberty. A contested layup tied the game for New York for the first time since it was 0-0, and then, beating the shot clock, sank the triple that sent Westchester into hysterics. Zellous also came within one assist of a double-double, picking up nine.

1st Star: C Tina Charles

The Liberty’s undoubted superstar, Charles was part of the team’s struggles early on. As the Wings built a 31-14 first quarter lead, Charles missed her first three shots, all coming as the Wings opened the game with a 14-2 start. But when the game was on the line, Charles came through big. She wound up with 20 points in the fourth quarter, picking up her second double-double of the young season. Her 34 points were just two short of her career-high, achieved against the same Wings last season.

What Decided It?

The fourth quarter. The Liberty were able to slice into the Dallas lead several times, but never fully broke through, usually failing to contain Cambage, who tallied 28 points and 16 rebounds. In the fourth, however, the Liberty hit their shots, going 12-of-17 from the field, including 7-of-11 from three-point territory. Overall, the Liberty’s 35-21 fourth quarter advantage provided the difference and pushed them ahead to their first win. It was a complete change of pace for New York in fourth quarters, as their home opener against Minnesota last Friday ended with them getting outscored 23-13 and hitting just three field goals.

The Zellous layup was set up thanks to a won jump ball with six seconds to go on the shot clock. The tip was grabbed by Rebecca Allen, who avoided defenders to dish it out and set up Zellous’ heroics.

What’s Next?

The Liberty hit the road for a Saturday night showdown with the Indiana Fever (7:00 PM, MSG+). Their next home game will be at Madison Square Garden on June 5 against Phoenix.

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