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AP - Sports

San Antonio Stars coach Dan Hughes believes the schedule has allowed him to make an accurate assessment of his club during the early portion of the season.

What's clear to him is that San Antonio needs to get better.

The Stars look to get back on track as they seek a fifth consecutive win over the New York Liberty on Thursday night at Madison Square Garden.

San Antonio (3-4) has faced the best and worst of the WNBA to start the season with varying results. Two of its victories came against winless Tulsa, while the other marks the only defeat for Phoenix.

The Stars' most recent losses came in a home-and-home set with unbeaten defending champion Minnesota on Friday and Sunday, 88-72 and 87-79. San Antonio dropped the second game despite a late push in the final minutes.

Jia Perkins scored 16 points and Becky Hammon added 15 on Sunday.

"I think what our schedule has done for us is give us a good baseline for where we're at," Hughes said. "We've played a lot of good teams (and) we've been on the road more than we've been at home. It's pointed up what we've got to do to get to that level. We have to embrace that and work at that."

The work begins on the defensive end, as San Antonio is allowing an average of 80.1 points to rank 10th in the 12-team league in scoring defense.

"I still don't think we're where we need to be (defensively)," Hughes said. "I can't say that in either game (against the Lynx) we put two halves of defense together. It's still a work in progress."

The Stars have swept the past two season series with New York (2-4), which lost to Washington 68-60 on Friday before falling 70-66 to Indiana the following night.

Cappie Pondexter is averaging 14.7 points, but scored only seven while going 1 of 10 from the field against the Fever. She had a season-high 20 points Friday.

''It was a hard-fought battle,'' forward Plenette Pierson said. "It came down to the wire and they made big shots and got big rebounds when they needed to.''

Tina Charles, one of the team's few bright spots after being acquired in a draft-day trade with Connecticut, scored 22 points and grabbed 14 rebounds against the Fever. She's averaging 15.5 points and ranks second in the league with 11.7 boards per game.

Charles likely will be matched up with 6-foot-4 Stars center Jayne Appel, who scored a season-best 11 points Sunday.

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