NEWARK, N.J. (AP) — The Washington Mystics were glad to finally get their first road win of the season in their last game before the Olympic break.
Crystal Langhorne scored 24 points and Monique Currie added 16 to lead the last-place Mystics to a 70-53 victory over the New York Liberty on Friday. Washington (4-14), which had lost its first seven road games, snapped a four-game losing streak and won for the second time in 11 games.
“It was big for us to come in and win on the road our last game,” Langhorne said. “Just a change of direction for us.”
After trailing early, the Mystics took control with a tiebreaking 15-2 run in the second quarter. New York got no closer than eight the rest of the way.
“We were being really aggressive offensively,” Langhorne said. “They were getting a lot of second-chance opportunities in the first quarter and we really focused on boxing out and pushing on transition.”
Washington shot 43 percent (24 for 56) from the field, led by Langhorne’s 10-for-15 and Currie’s 5-for-8 efforts. The Mystics were also 19 for 28 (68 percent) on free throws.
Cappie Pondexter scored 22 points on 9-for-23 shooting for the Liberty (6-12), losers of three straight and seven of their last 10. Essence Carson added eight points on 4-for-15 shooting as New York shot 32 percent (22 for 68) — including 1 for 15 from 3-point range — and 8 of 9 on free throws.
“I was 0 for 5 behind the (3-point) line,” Pondexter said. “Those are shots you got to make. We’re a pretty solid 3-point shooting team. Leilani (Mitchell) is the head of that, Nicole (Powell) shoots well. … We knock shots down. Obviously today wasn’t that kind of day.”
The Liberty cut a 13-point deficit late in the second quarter to eight early in the third. However, the Mystics scored seven consecutive points to regain control. Jasmine Thomas made two free throws and hit a 3-pointer, and Noelle Quinn had a layup to stretch the advantage to 48-33 with 5:12 left in the quarter.
Currie made two free throws and a 3 in the final minute of the period to give Washington a 58-41 lead heading to the fourth. Ashley Robinson’s free throw with 8:42 remaining pushed the Mystics’ lead to 18, their largest of the game.
Mitchell’s 3 with 3:48 to go — New York’s first made shot from beyond the arc after missing the first 14 attempts — capped a 7-0 run and pulled the Liberty to 61-53. However, they would get no closer with the Mystics closing the game on a 9-0 run.
“It was a great team effort with everybody contributing,” Washington coach Trudi Lacey said. “We executed our game plan for 40 minutes, which is something we struggled with all season. This was a good way to end the first half of the season. We just have to build on it and move forward.”
Kia Vaughn returned to the Liberty lineup after missing three games due to a concussion and had four points and four rebounds in nearly 27 minutes. New York was still without second-leading scorer and rebounder Plenette Pierson, who missed her eighth straight game with a left knee strain.
Both teams played their final game before the league’s monthlong break. They resume play Aug. 16 when New York hosts Connecticut and Washington visits Indiana.
“We definitely needed to win and obviously we didn’t,” Pondexter said. “It shows how much work we got to do during the break.”
The Mystics trailed by seven points a little more than 6 minutes into the game before pulling to 17-16 on Natasha Lacy’s layup in the final minute of the first quarter. Currie made one free throw and hit a jumper to cap an 11-2 run that gave Washington a 19-17 lead in the opening minute of the second.
Alex Montgomery and Langhorne traded jumpers about 50 seconds apart, and then Montgomery made two free throws to tie the score 21-all with 7:14 left in the first half.
The Mystics then took control with their 15-2 run over the next 5:51. Langhorne made two tiebreaking free throws and Quinn hit a 3-pointer to push Washington’s lead to five with about 5 1/2 minutes remaining in the half. Langhorne and Matee Ajavon had four points each during a 10-0 spurt that extended the lead to 36-23 nearly 4 minutes later.
New York, which shot 3 for 15 from the field and had six turnovers in the second quarter, scored the final four points of the period to pull within nine at the break.
“We had control of the game pretty early,” Pondexter said. “We made a couple of substitutions and they took advantage of it, kind of disrupted the flow of how the game was going in the beginning. And we never recovered.”
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