Liberty force third game with 86-68 win over Mystics

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WASHINGTON — Tina Charles scored 17 of her 22 points in the third quarter to help the New York Liberty beat the Washington Mystics 86-68 on Sunday and even their best-of-three Eastern Conference semifinals series at one game apiece.

The two teams will play the decisive Game 3 on Tuesday in New York.

Charles, who only had five points in the first half, took over in the third quarter, hitting shots from all over the court – including a 3-pointer. She helped New York extend a seven-point halftime lead to 18 by the end of the third quarter.

Washington, which never led in the game, couldn’t get much closer in the final quarter.

Tayler Hill led the Mystics with 19 points, hitting six 3-pointers – five of them in the first half.

Unlike Friday night’s game that went to double overtime after New York squandered a 10-point first quarter lead, Washington never threatened.

New York controlled the boards, shot 13 of 15 from the free throw line, and dominated the paint. The Liberty will be trying to win their first playoff series since 2010. Washington hasn’t advanced out of the conference semifinals since 2002.

The Mystics could have been down a lot more in the first half had Hill not hit five 3s. Washington shot 62 percent in the first half behind the arc to keep the game close. New York clamped down on the 3-point shooting in the second half.

Carolyn Swords added 12 points for New York before leaving the game with an injury. Epiphanny Prince added 11.

Ivory Latta, who hit a big 3-pointer to help Washington win the opener of the series, added 15 for the Mystics. No one else was in double figures for Washington.