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Pondexter scores 23 to help Liberty beat Mystics 85-77 for 5th straight win

Cappie Pondexter scored 23 points and the New York Liberty rode a big second-quarter surge to an 85-77 victory over the Washington Mystics on Friday night for their fifth straight victory.

Leilani Mitchell had 16 points and Taj McWilliams-Franklin added 12 for the Liberty, who outscored the Mystics 24-7 in the second quarter to take a 14-point halftime lead before cruising to their seventh win in eight games. New York's winning streak is its longest since opening the 2007 season with five wins.

The Liberty pulled into a tie with Washington for third place in the Eastern Conference, one game behind Atlanta and Indiana.

Monique Currie scored 23 points and Matee Ajavon had 20 for Washington, which had won three straight following a stretch in which it lost five of six.

After trailing by 23 points near the midpoint of the fourth quarter, the Mystics had a furious rally and pulled within seven in the final minute. However, that was as close as they got. Nikki Blue hit one free throw and Kia Vaughn made two to seal New York's win.

The Liberty wore pink uniforms in honor of Breast Health Awareness night.

Trailing 19-12 late in the first quarter, the Liberty went on a 20-3 run to take a 10-point lead. McWilliams-Franklin scored six consecutive points during the stretch, including two free throws that tied the score at 20-all and the jumper that put New York ahead for good with 5:44 left in the period. Janel McCarville's jumper with 2:15 remaining increased the lead to 32-22.

After the Mystics scored the next four points to pull within six, Mitchell hit back-to-back 3-pointers and McWilliams-Franklin added a jumper to give the Liberty a 40-26 lead at the break.

Mitchell converted a three-point play near the midpoint of the period and Plenette Pierson made a layup to stretch the lead to 55-36 with 4:09 left.

Essence Carson's jumper with 7:39 remaining in the game gave New York its biggest lead of the game, 68-45.

Currie made 1 of 2 free throws with about 2½ minutes left and Ajavon stole the ensuing inbounds pass and made a layup to pull Washington to 80-67. Ajavon and Marissa Coleman had consecutive 3-pointers to pull Washington to 82-75 with 25.5 seconds remaining.

Pondexter scored eight points in the first quarter and her layup in the final minute pulled New York to 19-16. Currie led Washington with eight points in the period.