Mystics 71

(3-13, 2-7 away)

Liberty 75

(10-7, 6-3 home)

    7:00 PM ET, July 28, 2011

    Prudential Center, Newark, NJ

    1 2 3 4 T
    WSH 16 20 20 1571
    NY 16 16 21 2275

    Top Performers

    Washington: C. Langhorne 18 Pts, 9 Reb, 2 Ast, 1 Stl, 1 Blk

    New York: P. Pierson 13 Pts, 4 Reb, 4 Ast, 3 Stl, 2 Blk

    Mystics-Liberty Preview


    The New York Liberty are in the thick of a tight race at the top of the Eastern Conference, but they can't seem to beat one of the two teams above them.

    Perhaps they'll fare better against the team that's below everyone.

    The Liberty play four of their next nine games against the last-place Washington Mystics, losers of seven of eight, starting with Thursday night's meeting at the Prudential Center.

    New York (9-7) trails both Connecticut and Indiana by 1 1/2 games for first place in the East, but could have owned the conference lead itself with some better performances lately against the Sun.

    Connecticut beat the Liberty 68-59 the Prudential Center on July 15, and after coach John Whisenant's team rebounded with a blowout win over Tulsa, the Sun put New York away again July 19. Sixteen turnovers and a 20-9 free-throw disparity doomed the Liberty in an 85-79 loss.

    "When we are consistently shooting 10 less free throws then our opponent, that's a sign that we aren't aggressive going to the basket," Whisenant told the Liberty's official website. "That's a sign that we're shooting too many jump shots. We need to go to the basket."

    The Mystics (3-12), meanwhile, simply aren't making enough shots. They shot 37.5 percent from the field and committed 19 turnovers in a 73-67 loss to San Antonio on Tuesday, dropping them to 1-7 this month.

    "They made plays and we didn't," said forward Crystal Langhorne, who had a team-high 19 points. "We turned the ball over, we had our chances. We would take a quick shot when we didn't need too. Things like that, it has to stop."

    Washington has needed its lone All-Star to dominate in order to have any chance to win. Langhorne has averaged 25.7 points and 11.3 rebounds in her team's three victories and 16.0 points and 6.9 boards in the nine losses in which she's been healthy.

    The Liberty haven't yet faced the Mystics this season, but they'll have a chance to beef up their record over the next few weeks by taking advantage of Washington's struggles. The teams will meet four times between Thursday and Aug. 16.

    They faced each other five times last season, when the clubs finished tied atop the East at 22-12. The home team won each time, with three of the meetings in the nation's capital.

    Cappie Pondexter did her part for the Liberty, averaging 20.4 points, but perhaps the most critical element to New York's success this season has been Plenette Pierson. The eight-year veteran has averaged 14.4 points and shot 57.6 percent in the Liberty's wins, but she's been held to 11.5 points per game and 47.4 percent shooting in their losses.