Mystics 79 - Liberty 46

The Washington Mystics made sure tonight that they were not going to drop further in the standings in a tight Eastern Conference race, routing the New York Liberty 79-46. This win halts Washington’s two-game losing streak and also allows the team to move 1 1/2 games ahead of the fourth-place Liberty.

This game was a drastic change from last Tuesday’s overtime loss in Madison Square Garden against New York. Four Mystics players scored in double-figures and guard Ivory Latta led the way with 16 points on a cool 6-8 shooting, including 4-5 from three. Center Kia Vaughn set the pace with a 4-4 first quarter and ended with 12 points. Guard Bria Hartley added 11 points and forward Emma Meesseman had 10 points.

The story tonight, however, was the Washington defense. The 46 points that New York scored was the fewest that the Mystics had allowed all season. Head coach Mike Thibault’s defense held the Liberty to 28.8% shooting, and center Tina Charles was the only New York player in double-figures, scoring 10 points, well below her season-average of 18.4 points. Guard Cappie Pondexter, who averages more than 14 points per game, was held to just 4 points on 2-11 shooting.

The Mystics came out of the gates by shooting 50% in the first quarter and jumped out to an 11-point lead with the quarter ending 21-10.

From the 2:45 mark in the first quarter to the 4:02 mark in the second, the Washington defense showed its true prowess and held New York scoreless. And the Mystics did not stop pushing. The team kept up its suffocating defense and hot shooting, as the team finished the game shooting 51.7% from the field. The lead stretched to the 20s in the third quarter and into the 30s in the fourth.

Because of the big lead, Mystics guard Tayler Hill was able to make a welcomed return late in the fourth. Hill, who’s missed the season up to this point due to her maternity leave, was greeted by cheering fans and played the final six and a half minutes.

The Mystics now just have five more games to go before the end of the regular season and will be looking to continue their playoff push on the road against the Indiana Fever Friday, August 8.