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Pondexter helps Liberty rout Sun 75-54 in opener

AP - Sports

UNCASVILLE, Conn. (AP) -- Tina Charles made herself right at home in her first game back in Connecticut.

Cappie Pondexter scored 17 points and Charles added nine points and nine rebounds to help the New York Liberty rout the Sun 75-54 on Friday night in the opener for both teams.

Charles played for two national championship teams at the University of Connecticut and spent her first four WNBA seasons with the Sun.

''It was a great collective win,'' Charles said. ''You don't see it a lot where you have a game where all 11 players can play.''

Charles told the Sun this winter that she wanted to return home to her native New York, so they traded her on draft night in return for second-year center Kelsey Bone, forward Alyssa Thomas, the fourth-overall pick in the draft, and New York's 2015 first-round pick.

''It's kind of eerie,'' Charles said. ''You're used to being in the home locker (room). I'm not used to being in the (Mohegan Sun) hotel. Little things like that. It's something to get used to.''

Rookie Anna Cruz had 11 points, nine rebounds and four steals for New York, and DeLisa Milton-Jones added 10 points and six rebounds.

Former Stanford star Chiney Ogwumike, the first overall pick in the April draft, had 13 points and five rebounds for the Sun. Alex Bentley, with 10 points, was the only other Connecticut player in double figures. New York shot 43.9 percent to only 30 percent for the Sun.

The Liberty looked far more cohesive than Connecticut, which has seven new players on its 12-man roster. It had just 12 assists on 70 shots.

''We came out and laid an egg,'' Connecticut coach Anne Donovan said. ''No doubt about it. We didn't have a good showing tonight, and I know they're disappointed about it.''

Alex Montgomery made two free throws with 7:50 left in the first half to give New York a 22-21 lead. It never trailed again and led 37-31 at halftime.

Pondexter opened the second half with a 3-pointer, and Cruz followed with a steal and a layup. Cruz's 3-pointer put New York ahead, 45-33, with 6:32 left in the third quarter.

The Liberty pushed its lead to 18 points at 60-42 early in the fourth quarter.

Connecticut cut its deficit to 61-49 with 6 minutes left.

New York used a 10-0 run, with Kara Braxton making consecutive baskets, to take a 71-49 lead with 2:13 left.

''We struggled mightily in the preseason,'' Liberty coach Bill Laimbeer said. ''We didn't have Tina, Cappie or Plenette (Pierson). We were really unclear what our basketball team was going to look like.''

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