Tina Charles
AP Photo/Jessica Hill

The New York Liberty have their first three-game winning streak since 2017. The latest victory had a flair for the dramatics in Seattle.

Geoff Magliocchetti

The New York Liberty‘s future rose to new heights on Wednesday afternoon at Alaska Airlines Arena. The present was right there to meet it.

Kia Nurse put up 24 points, bested only by 26 from Tina Charles. The veteran Charles put in the necessary basket to give the Liberty a late lead with just over a minute to go in regulation en route to an 84-83 New York victory over the Seattle Storm.

Charles’ final pair capped off a magnificent fourth quarter for New York. Trailing the hosting Storm 70-60 entering the frame, the Liberty (6-7) opened up the climax with 10 unanswered points to tie it. Neither team led by more than two over the final seven minutes, exchanging the lead before Seattle held an 83-82 advantage with 1:21 to go.

Taking a lob from Brittany Boyd, Charles faced a double team under the basket. One dribble later, however, she put up a hook shot that sailed through with 61 seconds left on the clock to create the final margin.

That capped off Charles’ 26-point afternoon, her highest tally since scoring 27 on June 7 against Washington. Boyd also recorded her 10th assist, reaching double-figures in the category for the second time this season.

The Liberty would outscore the Storm 24-13 in the fourth quarter. Eleven points came from Charles alone. Ironically enough, Nurse, the team’s first-round pick from last season, set a pair of 11-point bookends. Her first-quarter tally helped plant the seeds of an upset, as the game was knotted up at 18 after the opening 10 minutes.

A 7-0 Liberty run in the second helped them swipe momentum from the hosts. Their first-half lead would summit at 41-35 with 48 seconds to go. Seattle (8-7) called a timeout and responded with five quick points to narrow their halftime deficit to one.

But the Liberty, undermanned once more thanks to overseas commitments, needed just three minutes to eat away at what would become a double-digit lead. A Nurse jumper from Boyd served as the equalizer, setting up the final dramatics.

Charles almost put in the New York dagger, but her miss led to an Alysha Clark rebound with 25.7 seconds remaining. After a timeout to set up the final Seattle possession, Jordin Canada missed an open three with three seconds to go. Another Clark rebound was thrown toward the basket up in desperation, but its failure to fall commenced the Liberty celebration.

Wasted in the Seattle defeat was a career-high 19 points from Mercedes Russell. She was one of five Storm players to reach double figures.

Elsewhere on the box score, reserves Tanisha Wright and Nayo Raincock-Ekunwe came up big for the Liberty. Wright earned 10 points, four rebounds, and four assists over a season-high 25 minutes, while Raincock-Ekune collected eight points and five rebounds. Prior to the game, Wright was honored as a member of the Storm’s 20th-anniversary team.

The Liberty also ended a pair of dubious streaks with their win. Their third straight win is their first such winning streak since they ended the 2017 season with 10 consecutive victories. They also won in Seattle for the first time in nearly two calendar years, last doing so on July 6, 2017 at KeyArena.

The Storm’s traditional home, now known as Seattle Center Arena, is closed for renovations to prepare for the arrival of the Seattle NHL squad. They will split time between Alaska Airlines Arena on the University of Washington campus and Angel of the Winds Arena in Everett in the interim. The teams will return to UW’s floor for their July 14 rematch.

In snapping some troubling marks, the Liberty also stopped one of Seattle’s more notable accomplishments. Entering Wednesday’s action, the Storm had not lost back-to-back games for 49 consecutive contests. That now stands as the third-longest such streak in WNBA history.

The Liberty will look to sweep their three-game road trip on Friday night, heading south to battle the Phoenix Mercury (10:00 p.m. ET, CBSSN).

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