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Harding's 23 points lift Mystics over Liberty

Jul 19, 2009 - 2:38 AM WASHINGTON(AP) -- Lindsey Harding scored 23 points, including two free throws with 8.2 seconds left, to lead the Washington Mystics to a 68-67 victory over the New York Liberty on Saturday night.

Harding had seven rebounds and five assists as the Mystics took the first of four meetings between the teams. The Liberty had won four straight against Washington (7-6).

"She's the best thing that possibly could have happened to this team," the Mystics' Alana Beard, a former Duke star like Harding. "When you have a point guard that is aggressive like her, who understands the game and is smart, the game is really easy.

"She's a penetrator and a disher, and teams don't know how to play her now because she's fast as lightning."

Harding said much the same about Beard, a starter for the WNBA All-Star Game.

"I love playing with Alana," said Harding, who played two seasons with Beard at Duke. "You have so much attention drawn to her when she has the ball, and that opens it up for so many of us. They're almost trapping her, and I'm wide open."

Beard scored 13 points.

"I'm a starter, but I'm not the only All-Star on this team. I know I'm taking her to the All-Star game with me," Beard said.

Shameka Christon's jumper over Chasity Melvin got the Liberty within 66-64, but Christon failed to convert the three-point play.

Loree Moore, who had nine assists for the Liberty (4-8), made a 3-pointer as the final buzzer sounded.

Christon led New York with 21 points. Janel McCarville added 12.

After blocking Harding's shot, McCarville hit a 3-pointer that pulled the Liberty to 64-62 with 1:14 remaining.

McCarville also scored four straight points to pull the Liberty to 64-57 with 3:30 left.

Beard and Harding combined for 10 points as the Mystics took a 10-point lead by opening the third quarter with a 14-5 run.

Marissa Coleman and Beard made back-to-back 3-pointers that gave the Mystics a 32-28 lead at halftime.