for this game

Liberty-Mystics Preview

Aug 15, 2009 - 4:33 PM By SANTOSH VENKATARAMAN STATS Senior Writer

New York (8-15) at Washington (12-11), 4:00 p.m. EDT

The Washington Mystics have built huge leads and managed to hold off the New York Liberty twice this season.

The Mystics likely won't be looking past the last-place Liberty on Sunday in their final contest before going on a four-game road trip.

Washington (12-11) entered this season with low expectations and four straight losses to New York. While the Mystics have already surpassed last season's 10 victories, the Liberty (8-15) have matched their 2008 loss total and are slipping out of contention in the crowded Eastern Conference.

That doesn't mean that the Mystics will be looking past this game to a Western Conference road trip that starts Tuesday in Los Angeles. Washington's first two wins over New York in 2009 have not come easily.

The Mystics took a 16-point lead into the fourth quarter July 18 and held on for a 68-67 win. Washington built a 34-12 lead after one quarter at New York on July 30 and staved off a late rally in a 78-75 victory behind All-Star guard Alana Beard's 28 points.

That loss also marked Pat Coyle's last game as New York coach as she was fired the next day. Anne Donovan was named interim coach, but the club's poor play has continued.

The Liberty have made a habit of falling behind by big margins and that pattern continued in Friday's 88-77 home loss to Chicago. New York surrendered a franchise-record 56 points in the first half to trail by 28.

"They came out and hit contested shots, they hit open shots," Liberty center Janel McCarville said. "They knocked us right in the face. We weren't able to make an adjustment until after halftime."

New York All-Star guard Shameka Christon scored a game-high 25 points and McCarville added 17 as the Liberty fell to 2-4 under Donovan.

"I believe we can get into the postseason," Donovan said. "It's important that they don't forget that."

Washington avoided a third straight loss Friday with a 91-89 win in double overtime over Connecticut. Crystal Langhorne had career highs of 22 points and 16 rebounds and made the game-winning shot with 9.1 seconds left.

"I never hit a game-winning shot," Langhorne said. "That was just a great feeling for me. It was really good for us to have that win. Connecticut's a great team. We're just really excited. We really needed that."

Beard poured in a game-high 26 to lead Washington in scoring for the seventh straight time. She's averaging 20.9 points in that span.

"I thought tonight we grew up," Beard said. "I always say this team is good and we could be great. This was a step to us being great."

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