Charles scores 17 as Sun beat Sky 74-61 in openerMay 15, 2010 - 11:05 PM By PAT EATON-ROBB Associated Press Writer
UNCASVILLE, Conn.(AP) -- Tina Charles no longer has the photo of Sylvia Fowles that she kept in her college locker, a reminder of being dominated by the former LSU center in the 2007 NCAA tournament.
The two met for the first time as professionals on Saturday, and this time it was Charles who took charge, scoring 17 points and pulling down 10 rebounds in her WNBA debut to lead the Connecticut Sun to a 74-61 victory over Fowles and the Chicago Sky.
"(Fowles) was somebody that I would want to be as dominant as," said Charles, the national college player of the year for UConn and the top pick in the WNBA draft. "I don't want to be exactly like her, I want to go into my own and be my own person, but as her being dominant and just trying to be a leader there in the center role."
Charles scored her first WNBA basket on a hook shot over Fowles with 6:18 left in the first quarter.
Fowles, who scored six of the Sky's first eight points, finished with 16 points and nine rebounds and said she enjoys playing against Charles.
"I feel that if she works hard, then I'll work hard, too, because I refuse to get embarrassed."
Anete Jekabsone-Zogota led the Sun with 18 points, hitting four of her six 3-point shots.
Shameka Christon and Jia Perkins each had 11 points for Chicago.
Connecticut led by as many as 19 in the first half, before Fowles led Chicago on an 11-0 run to cut the deficit to 38-30.
But Connecticut pulled away for good on a 16-2 third-quarter run. That was sparked by another rookie, former Nebraska star Kelsey Griffin, who took two charges from Fowles.
"I think it's a great example for veterans to see a young post player like that, not afraid to take on one of the biggest, most physical players in the league," said Sun coach Mike Thibault. "Those were huge momentum plays at the time that they happened."
Griffin finished with eight points and 10 rebounds. A 3-pointer by Tan White made the lead 58-39 late in the third quarter. The Sun started the fourth quarter with a 12-0 run and it was 72-43 before they eased up.
"We got out there and ran, especially in the second half," said Kara Lawson, who had 10 points, three on a half-court shot at the first-quarter buzzer that gave the Sun a 22-14 lead. "Everyone was playing. Everyone was hitting shots. We don't have any selfishness on this team. It was a lot of fun."
The Sun finished last season at 16-18, missing the playoffs for the first time since 2002. In response, the team revamped the lineup in the offseason. They secured the pick for Charles and Montgomery in a January deal that sent All-Star Lindsay Whalen to the Minnesota Lynx.
Another trade on draft day allowed to Sun to pick up Griffin with the draft's third pick. Lawson came over as a free agent and the Sun picked up her former teammate DeMya Walker in the dispersal draft when the Sacramento Monarchs folded.
Walker was not a factor in the opener, getting three early fouls and finishing with just four points.
Two of the Sun's top players from last year will miss the first few games this season. Asjha Jones, who averaged almost 17 points a game, is sidelined after undergoing surgery in February on her left Achilles' tendon. Post player Sandrine Gruda is in Europe with the French national team until June.
The Sky seemed to have trouble finding a scorer to replace Candice Dupree, who was sent to Phoenix in the offseason in a three-team deal that gave them Christon and Cathrine Kraayeveld from New York.
"They both are outstanding shooters," said Fowles. "We just have to find a rhythm that is good for them and we have to be on the same page as well."
FINAL 1ST 2ND 3RD 4TH TOTAL
--- --- --- --- -----
CHICAGO 14 19 10 18 61
CONNECTICUT 22 20 18 14 74 FINAL
HIGH SCORERS: CHI - SYLVIA FOWLES 16, SHAMEKA CHRISTON 11,
JIA PERKINS 11
CON - ANETE JEKABSONE-ZOGOTA 18, KARA LAWSON
10, RENEE MONTGOMERY 9
May 15 5:23 PM
CONNECTICUT 60 END, 3RD QTR
May 15 5:00 PM
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