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MVP Charles leads Sun in playoff opener

Connecticut’s Tina Charles, shooting over New York’s Leilani Mitchell, scored 17 points and had four blocks in the Sun’s victory. (Associated Press)
Connecticut’s Tina Charles, shooting over New York’s Leilani Mitchell, scored 17 points and had four blocks in the Sun’s victory. (Associated Press)

WNBA: Tina Charles celebrated her first WNBA MVP award with 17 points and four blocks, powering the Connecticut Sun to a 65-60 victory over the New York Liberty in their playoff opener Thursday night in Uncasville, Conn.

Asjha Jones had 10 points, nine rebounds and four assists for Connecticut (26-9), which is the top seed in the Eastern Conference. Kara Lawson added eight points, six rebounds and five assists.

Cappie Pondexter had 14 points, six assists and four steals for the Liberty (15-20).

Charles, who averaged 18 points and a WNBA-best 10.5 rebounds, received 25 first-place votes for MVP and 345 points overall from a panel of 41 sports writers and broadcasters, the league said. Los Angeles forward Candace Parker was second with seven first-place votes and 253 points.

Two Sun guards also were recognized by the league. Montgomery took home the WNBA’s Sixth Woman of the Year honor after averaging 11.6 points and Lawson received the Kim Perrot Sportsmanship Award.

Sparks outlast Silver Stars: Kristi Toliver tied her career high with 29 points, including the go-ahead free throws with 45 seconds remaining, and the Los Angeles Sparks beat the visiting San Antonio Silver Stars 93-86 in the opening game of the WNBA Western Conference semifinals.

Toliver was presented with the league’s Most Improved Player award before the game.

Becky Hammons led the third-seeded Silver Stars with 19 points, Danielle Adams had 17 and Danielle Robinson 16.

Officer: Ticketing Swinney led to firing

College football: A South Carolina police officer claims he was fired for giving a speeding ticket to a popular college football coach.

Officer Michael McClatchy issued a ticket to Clemson coach Dabo Swinney on Sept. 3 after he clocked him going 63 mph in a 35 mph zone in the city of Pickens, S.C., located 20 miles from Clemson.

The city of Pickens said it fired the officer because he posted his version of events on a message board while on duty.

McClatchy said he only briefly edited the post at work and is convinced officials were just looking for a reason to get rid of him because he didn’t let one of the most popular figures in the area get away with breaking the law.

California law aids injured athletes

Miscellany: California will become the first state to mandate financial protections for student athletes who suffer career-ending injuries in some of the state’s top college sports programs under a bill Gov. Jerry Brown signed Thursday.

SB1525 protects athletes at the four universities that receive more than $10 million annually in sports media revenue – USC, UCLA, Cal and Stanford.

They will have to give academic scholarships to students who lose their athletic scholarships if they are injured while playing their sport. The legislation also requires the schools to pay future medical costs for on-the-field injuries.

Rio leaders deny role in Olympic scandal: The president of the organizing committee for the 2016 Olympics in Rio has dismissed claims that high-ranking officials knew that workers were making unauthorized copies of files belonging to organizers of the 2012 London Games.

Carlos Nuzman, along with CEO Leonardo Gryner, tried to make it clear that there was no wrongdoing by the any of the top officials at the 2016 organizing committee, especially after one of the workers who was fired told Brazilian media that she was instructed to access the documents and that her bosses knew about it.

Kenya asks for help investigating doping claims: Kenya’s track federation is investigating accusations of doping among its famed distance runners and said it asked the World Anti-Doping Agency and police for help.

Athletics Kenya chairman Isaiah Kiplagat said his organization was looking into allegations by a German reporter and Kenyan athlete that performance-enhancing substances were being made available to runners by people posing as doctors.