Carson, Jackson lead Liberty past Mystics, 86-65Sep 13, 2009 - 11:48 PM By VIN A. CHERWOO AP Sports Writer
NEW YORK(AP) -- The New York Liberty closed a disappointing season with a feel-good win, their easiest of the year.
Essence Carson scored 17 points, Tiffany Jackson added 12 and New York beat the playoff-bound Washington Mystics 86-65 on Sunday. Carson scored 14 points and Jackson had 10 in the third quarter as the Liberty built a 16-point lead, saw it cut to seven, then pulled away again.
"It was a rough season, we just wanted to end with a bang," Jackson said.
New York (13-21), which fell one win short of reaching the WNBA finals last year, will miss the postseason for the fourth time in franchise history. The Liberty, losers of five of their previous six, won by their largest margin since a 77-56 victory over Washington on July 17, 2008.
"It's the first time that I have seen the team so relaxed," Liberty All-Star forward Shameka Christon said. "Everyone came out to play. I guess it's because we already knew we were not making the playoffs. We also wanted to leave a good taste in the mouths of our fans. ... A lot of people stepped up and played well."
Monique Currie had 17 points and Matee Ajavon scored 14 for the Mystics (16-18), who shot 35 percent from the field (20 for 58). Washington opens the playoffs on Thursday against top-seeded Indiana at the University of Maryland's Comcast Center.
"I'm disappointed a little bit in the game because I wanted to finish strong," Mystics coach Julie Plank said. "The bottom line is we're healthy. We have a day off tomorrow and we've got to focus on Indiana for Thursday."
Mystics All-Star guard Alana Beard sat out while resting a sore left ankle. She is expected to be ready for the playoffs.
Ajavon played a little more than 30 minutes and Currie nearly 27. The other starters - Crystal Langhorne, Chasity Melvin and Lindsey Harding - had less than 20 minutes each.
"I didn't want to overplay Lindsey Harding," Plank said. "She's definitely a key to our team. I wanted to give other people a chance to play."
The Mystics trailed by 16 early in the third before Ajavon, who had 10 points in the quarter, made back-to-back 3s to pull the Mystics to 45-37 with 5:49 left in the period. Nakia Sanford's three-point play about 1 1/2 minutes later cut the deficit to seven.
However, Jackson made consecutive baskets 26 seconds apart to push the Liberty's lead back to 55-44 with 3:03 left in the third. Carson had a 3 and layup sandwiched around a jumper by Jackson, and New York regained a 16-point lead with 1:17 to go in the third.
Washington didn't get closer than 10 in the fourth quarter.
"To see everybody play and play well feels good to finish this way," Liberty interim coach Anne Donovan said. "When you look at the stat sheet you see everyone playing and everyone contributing, that's a feel-good win, no matter what time of the year it comes in."
Christon addressed the fans after the game, thanking them for their "dedication, support and passion during a difficult season."
"It really actually just hit me when I was giving that speech that this is done for the season," she said. "As frustrating as it was, I wish there were more games ... so we could compete and show we are capable of doing good things."
Leilani Mitchell's 3 with about 2 minutes to go in the second quarter gave the Liberty their biggest lead of the half, 35-23.
Currie had 12 points and four rebounds at the half as the Mystics trailed by 11. She was 3 for 3 from the field, including two 3-pointers, and 4 for 4 from the line. The rest of the team shot 3 for 24 on field goals.
Currie's 3-pointer gave the Mystics a 13-12 lead with 3:23 to go in the first quarter.
Christon started a 7-0 run for the Liberty with a 3 of her own 37 seconds later, and they didn't trail again.
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