NEW YORK — The Connecticut Sun’s playoff chances are setting.
With just four games left, they sit in 10th place after an 89-82 loss to the New York Liberty on Friday night.
“We might need a little divine intervention,” said Chiney Ogwumike, who scored 20 points for the Sun. “We have to take care of business, handle business win games. This was a huge game for us, but we played hard.”
The Sun (11-19) are two games behind Phoenix for the final playoff spot and will need a lot of help even if they do win their final few games to avoid missing the postseason for a fourth straight year. To make matters worse, they traded their first round pick in the 2017 draft to Los Angeles to acquire Jonquel Jones before this season started.
While Connecticut is on the outside looking in, New York has already clinched the No. 3 seed. The Liberty (21-10) hope to use the final few games to get healthy. They were down to eight healthy players against Connecticut with Shoni Schimmel (concussion), Tanisha Wright (knee), Kiah Stokes (hip) and Shavonte Zellous (back) all sidelined.
“That’s the most important thing to get healthy,” said Tina Charles, who led the team with 23 points and 10 rebounds.
The Liberty rebounded from a disappointing loss to Seattle on Wednesday when they were blown out at home.
“We need to find a level where we’re consistent,” Charles said. “We have to know how to get ourselves out of situations when things aren’t going our way.”
The Sun didn’t go down without a fight. Every time that it seemed New York was in control, Connecticut would battle back. The Liberty led by six at the half, and opened up a double-digit advantage early in the fourth before the Sun got within 78-76 with 4:39 left.
New York scored the next seven points, capped by a 3-pointer by Epiphanny Prince to finally put the game away.
Courtney Williams scored a career-high 20 points.
Charles, who played four years in Connecticut before being traded to New York before the 2014 season, has excelled against her former team. She matched her career-high 32 points earlier this season. She was well on her way to that mark again with 17 in the first half on Friday.
After one basket where she also drew a foul, the Madison Square Garden fans, which included U.S. track star Tori Bowie, started chanting MVP. Charles’ dad led the cheers while holding up a sign with his daughter’s No. 31 on it.
“I’m not all about that. I’m not about all that flashy stuff, that’s for his enjoyment,” Charles said. “I love that he’s very supportive. He didn’t do it any other season. He only did it in 2012 (when Charles won MVP). It just shows he knows my game and knows when I’m playing at a certain level and that’s the level of respect I have for my father. That’s one of the reason I wanted to play here. So that he could have those moments.”