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January scores 19 points to help first-place Fever hold off Mystics, 78-73

Briann January scored 19 points, including four free throws in the final 2.9 seconds, to help the Indiana Fever hold on to first place in the Eastern Conference with a 78-73 win over the Washington Mystics on Saturday night.

Ebony Hoffman and Katie Douglas added 13 points each, and Tamika Catchings had 12 points before fouling out as the Fever (15-7) held off a late rally to win their fourth straight and sixth in the last seven.

Indiana moved 1½ games ahead of Washington in the tight Eastern Conference where only four games separated the six teams at the start of the day.

Katie Smith scored 17 points to lead the Mystics (13-8), who finished with 20 turnovers. Crystal Langhorne had 15 points and 13 rebounds, Monique Currie added 14 points and Lindsey Harding 10.

Washington trailed 68-57 before Smith made a technical free throw and hit a 3-pointer to start a 9-0 run that cut the deficit to two points on Currie's layup with 2:13 left.

After January and Currie each made two free throws, Tully Bevilaqua hit a 3 and Douglas made a free throw to extend the Fever's lead to 74-68 with 47 seconds to go.

Currie hit a 3 and, after Smith's potential tying 3 went in and out, Harding had a putback to pull the Mystics to 74-73 with 4.9 seconds remaining.

January, who made 14 of 15 from the line, then sealed the win.

Indiana used an 8-0 run late in the second quarter to take a 39-31 lead at halftime. Hoffman had 10 points at the break.

Helped by eight Mystics turnovers in the first quarter, the Fever too 14 extra shots from the floor in the opening 20 minutes, shooting 16 for 36 with 14 assists.

Hoffman's 3-pointer gave the Fever the 11-point lead with 4:19 remaining in the game.