Bria Hartley
AP Photo/Darron Cummings

The Indiana Fever took them to the brink, but the New York Liberty used a strong first quarter to their advantage to earn a win on the road.

The New York Liberty, in spite of some strong recent efforts, had gone a month without a win. A pair of All-Stars was finally able to flip the narrative on Tuesday night in Indianapolis.

Tina Charles put up 23 points and 14 rebounds, followed closely by 20 points from Kia Nurse. Their haul guided the Liberty to an 82-76 win over the Indiana Fever at Bankers Life Fieldhouse. The victory snapped an eight-game Liberty losing streak.

“We battle, we play hard and we haven’t been lucky in the past. I thought we played well. I thought we moved the ball. I thought we had some really good glimpses of driving and kicking,” head coach Katie Smith said. “I thought our defense has been pretty solid over these last couple games. Tonight, it came through towards the end. But they put pressure on (Teaira) McCowan, (Candice) Dupree, their guards.”

The rookie McCowan did lead Indiana with 24 points, but no one else got past 11.

The Fever jumped out to a 2-0 lead via a Dupree jumper, but New York (9-18) quickly rattled off eight unanswered points. Six came from the hands of Charles. That run ignited a 28-13 first-quarter advantage for the Liberty. Charles and Nurse would unite for all but seven points of that tally.

“I just wanted to make sure that I told my teammates to know that (Indiana is) very confident when they’re on their home court floor,” Charles said of the first quarter. “So, I’m just happy we were able to get an early jump on them.”

Indiana (9-18) chipped into the lead over the other three frames, but, save for a 61-61 tie in the fourth quarter, the Liberty never let them have it back. That tie was quickly erased via a three-pointer from Amanda Zahui B. The Swedish veteran partook in her first game since leaving Aug. 7’s contest with a concussion.

“I think it was great for us to finally get a win under our belt, after the long stretch that we’ve had. It was a great team win,” Nurse said. “I thought we moved the ball really, really well…and I think as a team defensively we were really, really good today. So that was fun to see.”

The Liberty are now 5-1 when Nurse reaches at least 20 points this season. Charles continued her scorching hot August, as she has now averaged 20.6 points over her last seven games.

As they carefully hung on to their slimming lead, the Liberty enjoyed a late boost from guard Bria Hartley. She put up 16 points, all in the second half, to reach double-figures for the fourth time in the last five contests. Hartley would also tie for the team-lead in assists with four alongside Brittany Boyd.

Nurse would shoot 6-of-8 from the field (4-of-5 from 3-point range), but she was quick to pass on praise to her fellow All-Star.

“Tina (Charles) is a big part of that and her ability to score down low against anybody that we’re playing,” Nurse said. “I think she did a great job not only finding her shots but getting the ball out and then we moved it really well.”

Further history awaited Charles, the seven-time All-Star. After moving into the top ten of the WNBA’s all-time scoring list earlier this week, she now ranks sixth in successful field goals (2,392) and 15th in blocks (340).

The Liberty salvaged a victory out of the three-game season set with the Fever. Indiana took the other two, including a buzzer-beating, opening night win from McCowan back on May 24. They also defeated an Eastern Conference opponent for the first time since a win in Atlanta on June 30.

That same Dream squad will be at Westchester County Center on Friday night to welcome the Liberty back from their three-game road trip (7:30 p.m. ET, CBSSN).

Follow Geoff Magliocchetti on TWITTER

NYY

NYM

NYG

NYJ

NYK

BKN

NYR

NYI

NJD

SJU