The New York Liberty woke up ready to outmuscle the Atlanta Dream on the glass.
The Liberty created opportunities for second-chance points throughout their 86-62 victory over the Atlanta Dream in a Wednesday matinee at Madison Square Garden. With their fourth straight victory, the Liberty (15-6) extended their Eastern Conference lead over the Dream (11-10) to 4 1⁄2 games in the final regular-season matchup between the East’s top two teams.
“Overall, we did to them what they normally do to us, which [is score on] second-chance points,” head coach Bill Laimbeer said. “That was the big difference in the game.”
The Liberty, who lead the league in rebounding, grabbed a season-high 21 offensive boards as they out-rebounded Atlanta, 50-32.
“[Rebounding] just comes with effort and having heart,” said Charles, who led the way with 18 points and nine rebounds. “... You have to think that every shot is going to be a miss.”
Sugar Rodgers added 13 points for the Liberty, and Rebecca Allen notched a career-high 11 off the bench.
The Liberty and Dream split the first two meetings of the season, and at times the rubber match got heated. Atlanta, visibly flustered as the Liberty controlled the boards, was whistled for technical fouls on Angel McCoughtry and Rachel Hollivay. Both the Liberty’s Amanda Zahui B. and the Dream’s Reshanda Gray also were called for flagrant fouls.
“I think [the Dream] were a little frustrated,” Laimbeer said. “We were playing hard. The game was out of control for them, and their frustration got the best of them.”
The Liberty next take on the Minnesota Lynx (17-4) Friday night at Target Center.