Liberty Stay in the Playoff Race With Win Over MysticsSeptember 13, 2012
Newark, NJ- Winning is the only thing on the New York Liberty's mind these days as the race to the playoffs remains in a dead heat for the fourth and final spot in the Eastern Conference. On Wednesday night, the Liberty inched another step closer with a 75-62 win over the Washington Mystics on Breast Health Awareness Night.
“We were struggling throughout the game,” Liberty head coach John Whisenant said. “For whatever reason, Washington has been a difficult team for us. We weren’t the way we needed to be. The thing I am most pleased with was the fourth quarter. We showed our determination.”
Whisenant kept the same lineup from the previous five games, starting Essence Carson and Kara Braxton. Having Carson and Braxton seemed to make an impact, as the Liberty got off to the 5-0 start on the Mystics. New York looked to build off the early lead and establish the tone, but Washington settled in offensively midway through the period. Similar to the last time both teams met, the Mystics were once again nipping at the Liberty's heels for the remainder of the first frame.
With a three-point edge at the start of the second quarter, the Liberty buckled down defensively, quickly extending the margin to seven within the first two minutes. New York led by as many as nine before mistakes at both ends of the floor allowed the Mystics to tie the game at 34. The Liberty would end the half on a high-note with a trey from Leilani Mitchell, putting New York ahead at the break.
Both teams got off to an even start in the second half and the Liberty saw their lead quickly erased when Monique Currie put the Mystics up by one. In a quarter that saw four ties and six lead changes, the Liberty went stagnant offensively late in the period and fell behind by seven. Despite the lapse, New York regained some momentum towards the end of the quarter and pulled ahead by one heading into the final frame.
The Mystics went cold offensively to start the fourth quarter, allowing the Liberty to extend its lead to five off of four straight points from Kia Vaughn. Momentum remained in New York's favor as the quarter progressed when the Mystics went over in team fouls, putting the Liberty in the bonus for the rest of the way. While no lead is safe, New York kept their composure at both ends of the floor and pulled ahead by nine off a jump shot from Vaughn. Four straight points from Pierson put the game away for the Liberty, as they notched another needed victory to stay in the playoff race.
Currie led all scorers with 24 points, five rebounds and three assists. Crystal Langhorne added nine points, six rebounds and four steals for the Mystics.
Pondexter led all Liberty scorers with 22 points, seven rebounds and six assists. Nicole Powell netted 15 points and dished out four assists. Vaughn logged a double-double with 10 points and 10 rebounds.
“It was an ugly win, but I’m glad we pulled it out in the fourth quarter,” Pondexter said. “I think we focused a little more and we began to help each other. We did a lot of the right things that caused us to go ahead in the fourth.”
The Liberty will now head out for their final road trip of the season, finishing off the home and home with the Mystics on Sunday. Then they head to San Antonio for a matchup with the Silver Stars and finish the trip with a game against the Tulsa Shock.
“I think they’re all winnable,” Pondexter said regarding the impending road trip. “I believe we just have to focus through all of the traveling and all of the good things that are great from being at home. We just have to focus a little more and trust each other.”