UNCASVILLE, Conn. (AP)—Tina Charles playfully tried to talk her way back into the lineup after the third period Friday night.
She made the most of her opportunity when Connecticut Sun coach Mike Thibault relented and put her back in.
Charles recorded the fifth triple-double in WNBA history with 10 points, 10 assists and 16 rebounds, leading the Sun to an 83-55 victory over the Indiana Fever.
Thibault had removed Charles at the end of the third period when she was one assist shy of a triple double.
“She had eight assists at halftime. It wasn’t hard to keep track,” Thibault said. “I said ‘you’ll get your chance.”’
It was the first triple double in franchise history and the first in the league since May 21, 2005, when Deanna Nolan of the Detroit Shock had a triple-double at Connecticut.
Her 10th assist came with 8:25 remaining on Jessica Moore’s jumper.
“We’re getting to the time of year where it’s time to start making better decisions,” Charles said. “I didn’t want to force shots. I just passed. My teammates made the shots.”
Connecticut (19-12) moved within a half-game of first-place Indiana (19-11) and a step closer to earning homecourt in at least the first round of the playoffs.
“Coach told us on the bus ride to the airport (Wednesday in San Antonio) that last year at this time we were miserable because we weren’t going to the playoffs,” Charles said. “He made us feel like things could always be worse and that this season is different.”
“We were locked in,” Thibault said.
Connecticut’s lead never went below double digits in the second half. The Sun led by as many as 31.
Charles also set a franchise record for made field goals in a season, sinking her 224th midway through the first half to eclipse Jones’ mark of 223 set in 2008.
The Sun made six of 12 three-point field goals in the first half and shot 53 percent (19 of 36) overall. The Sun assisted on 18 of their 19 field goals and led 48-33 at halftime.
“I give Connecticut a lot of credit,” Indiana coach Lin Dunn said. “They played with an enormous amount of urgency. It looked like they were fighting for first place.”