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Sun sweep Liberty to earn spot in Eastern Conference finals

Ashja Jones and the Sun are moving to the WNBA’s Eastern Conference finals.

NEWARK, N.J., Sept. 29, 2012 – The Connecticut Sun may have started slow but they finished with a flourish to earn a spot in the WNBA’s Eastern Conference finals for the first time since 2006 with a 75-62 victory over the New York Liberty Saturday night. The win gives the Sun a 2-0 sweep of the best-of-3 series.

New York outscored Connecticut 12-0 to open the contest but it was the Sun with a 14-0 run to end the contest and series before over 7,800 fans at the Prudential Center. New York didn’t score a point in the final 4:22.

League MVP Tina Charles led the way with 25 points and 14 rebounds for Connecticut while guard Kara Lawson added 15 points on five 3-point goals, including two in the series-ending surge at the close of the game. Charles had nine points and six rebounds in the final quarter. Ashja Jones had 20 points for the Sun, including 12 in the third quarter.

“When it was time to step up all of the best players stepped up tonight,” Sun coach Mike Thibault said. “Our three All-Star players stepped up. It was terrific, but we had great performances from a lot of people.”

Thibault praised Charles. “You can see why she was the league MVP. She had 25 (points) and 14 (rebounds) in a must-win road game for us. I thought it a was a must win because I wanted to give the team some time off for a few days. She made every type of play.”

The Sun are sore after the regular season. Jones is still gaining strength in her leg after straining Achilles tendon in July, Charles missed a game at the end of the regular season with a strained groin and Danielle McCray hurt her knee in the final week of the regular season.

Connecticut will meet the winner of the Atlanta and Indiana series in the best-of-3 Eastern Conference finals. Game 1 will be Friday at 8 p.m. at the Mohegan Sun Arena (ESPN2).

Connecticut 75, New York 62
At Newark
Connecticut (75) Ashja Jones 8-12 4-5 20, Kalina Greene 0-0 0-0 0, Tina Charles 10-19 5-7 25, Kara Lawson 5-11 1-1 15, Allison Hightower 1-8 0-0 2, Tan White 0-4 2-2 2, Renee.Montgomery 1-4 0-0 3, Misty Mims 3-4 2-4 8, Danielle McCray 0-3 0-0 0. Totals 28-65 14-19 75.
New York (62) Nicole Powell 3-7 0-0 7, Pienette Pierson 2-5 1-2 5, Kara Braxton 5-8 0-0 10, Essence Carson 4-12 0-0 8, Cappie Pondexter 8-22 3-3 20, Kia Vaughn 2-3 0-0 4, Leilani Mitchell 2-5 0-0 5, Alex Montgomery 1-2 0-0 2, DeMya Walker 0-1 1-2 1. Totals 27-65 5-7 62.
Connecticut            11  16  23  25 – 75
New York                22  11  19  10 – 62
3-Point Goals: Connecticut 5-16 (Lawson 4-9, R.Montgomery 1-2, White 0-1, Hightower 0-2, McCray 0-2), New York 3-15 (Mitchell 1-3, Powell 1-3, Pondexter 1-6, Pierson 0-1, Carson 0-2) Rebounds: Connecticut 51 (Charles 14), New York 31 (Vaughn 9). Assists: Connecticut 20 (Lawson 6), New York 13 (Pierson 5).

Gerry deSimas, Jr., is the editor and founder of The Collinsville Press. He is an award-winning writer and has been covering sports in Connecticut and New England for more than 40 years. He was inducted into the New England High School Wrestling Hall of Fame in 2018.

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