Sun's Charles: This is personal
Mohegan - Tina Charles doesn't show too much emotion publicly and isn't the easiest person for strangers to read.
Sunday, Charles was burning inside. She had a rare off night offensively the last time the Connecticut Sun played the Chicago Sky and it ticked her off.
That performance wasn't what her teammates had come to expect from the second-year center.
It wasn't what Charles expected of herself.
This time, Charles played with a vengeance. She scored 11 of her career-high 31 points in the fourth quarter of an 83-68 win over the Sky before a crowd of 6,875 at Mohegan Sun Arena.
Connecticut improved to 4-1.
"I took this game personally, the way I played versus them the first time," Charles said. "That wasn't the way I know how to play.
"My team, they definitely depend on me offensively and defensively. I just wanted to show them that I'm there, and that game was just one of those games."
The Sun led Chicago by eight points Sunday with less than nine minutes left in the game when Charles went off. She scored 11 points during a 15-9 Connecticut run to push her team's lead to 79-65.
Charles had eight points and four rebounds when the Sun lost at Chicago on June 10 (78-75).
The first Chicago game wasn't Charles' worst offensive night - she had two points in a 77-67 loss to Indiana on June 13. Charles had, however, set the bar high for herself as a rookie. She set a WNBA record for most rebounds (398) and double-doubles (22) in a season and was a unanimous Rookie Of the Year winner.
There were only four games where Charles scored in single figures last year. Connecticut lost all four.
"My team depends on me," Charles said. "That's how I get my team's respect every night, when I go out and play the way I do, especially a night like this. Just getting my team's respect and knowing that I'm there."
It's not easy for any WNBA center to perform at a high level when playing against Sylvia Fowles, Chicago's 6-foot-6 intimidator. Charles also faced considerable double-teams in that June 10 loss, but wouldn't use that as an excuse.
"I get that usually every night," Charles said. "In the offseason, I worked on how to face up and find the open man out of the double teams."
Charles carried the Sun's offensive load Sunday. She shot 13 of 21 and added a game-high 12 rebounds.
"She played really aggressive," teammate Kara Lawson said. "A lot of times what happens is what they (opposing defenses) do. Do they bring double-teams? Do they bring them hard? And they weren't. They were content with her going one-on-one.
"We just kept giving it to her. She was just very, very aggressive, taking it right at whoever was guarding her."
Chicago's Cathrine Kraayeveld said of Charles: "She is a good player; she is going to get her points, get her rebounds. We were a little slow on some rotations and they got a lot of offensive rebounds and tips and that is on us."
Lawson, who missed Thursday's game at Washington due to a sprained ankle, came off the bench and scored eight of her 13 points in the first quarter. She added seven rebounds and three assists.
Asjha Jones had 12 points and four assists for the Sun and Kelsey Griffin added eight rebounds.
"This makes it a better Father's Day," Connecticut coach Mike Thibault said about the win.
Fowles led the Sky (3-2) with 23 points and 10 rebounds. Epiphanny Prince added 18 points and four steals.
The teams play again Thursday at Chicago.
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