Tina Charles’ return to the Big Apple was spoiled as Sabrina Ionescu scored 15 points and dished out five assists, helping the New York Liberty rally from 20 down for an 82-79 victory over the Washington Mystics on Saturday night in Brooklyn.
Washington Mystics 79 – 82 New York Liberty
Ionescu’s biggest assist came with 1:13 left as she found Reshanda Gray underneath for an 80-79 Liberty lead.
Four missed free throws, including two by Charles with 52.1 seconds remaining, allowed the Liberty (9-9) to hang on for just their fourth win in their last 12 outings.
The Mystics (7-10) have lost four in a row.
Charles, a former WNBA MVP who played six seasons with the Liberty, returned to New York for the first time since being traded to Washington a year ago and recorded her eighth double-double of the season with 31 points and 16 rebounds.
Betnijah Laney poured in 19 points to pace the Liberty, who avenged a 101-72 loss to the Mystics on May 21. Jazmine Jones scored 17 for New York while Michaela Onyenwere and Gray scored 11 apiece.
The Mystics led 51-33 at halftime after shooting at a 55.0-percent clip (22-for-40).
Charles’ turnaround jumper gave the Mystics their largest lead at 55-35 lead with 8:49 left in the third quarter.
The Liberty didn’t back off, and after cutting the deficit 66-56 heading into the fourth, they were only down 75-73 with 4:10 left after a basket by Ionescu.
Ionescu then gave the Liberty their first lead of the day at 76-75 moments later with a three-pointer but Charles answered with a hook shot to put the Mystics back up by one.
Washington fell to 3-6 in the Commissioner’s Cup standings, while New York improved to 5-4.
Minnesota Lynx 99 – 68 Phoenix Mercury
Kayla McBride scored 24 points and four teammates scored in double figures as the visiting Minnesota Lynx completed a two-game sweep of the Phoenix Mercury with a 99-68 victory Saturday night.
McBride, who scored 10 points during a pivotal 12-0 run in an 82-76 victory in Phoenix on Wednesday, made nine of 13 field goals, including four of six three-pointers on Saturday night.
Napheesa Collier added 19 points as the Lynx (9-7) won their fourth consecutive game and ninth in their last 12. They won the three-game season series, which began with the Mercury winning 77-75 on the road in the season opener May 14.
Layshia Clarendon added 17 points, Damiris Dantas scored 14 and Crystal Dangerfield had 12 for Minnesota, which shot 55.1 percent on field goals and made all 14 of its free throws.
Skylar Diggins-Smith scored 12 points and Diana Taurasi added 11 points to lead Phoenix (7-9), which shot just 32.8 percent on field goals, but made 16 of 17 free throws.
Minnesota used a 37-point second-quarter to take control with an 18-point halftime lead.
Collier’s basket started the third-quarter scoring and pushed the Lynx lead to 20 points. The margin grew to as many as 31 points before the quarter ended with the Lynx up 79-51. Minnesota led by as many as 34 points in the fourth quarter.
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