NEWARK, N.J. – Matee Ajavon scored 16 points, Crystal Langhorne had 14 and the Washington Mystics beat the New York Liberty 66-57 on Friday night.
Rookie Tierra Ruffin-Pratt had 10 of her 12 points in the fourth quarter and Ivory Latta added 11 points for the Mystics (12-13). Fourth-place Washington increased its lead to 1 1/2 games over the Liberty in the Eastern Conference with their third straight win, matching their season-best streak from June 7-16.
Katie Smith scored 14 points and Cappie Pondexter had 11 for New York (10-14). The Liberty, who had won the teams' first two meetings, have alternated wins and losses their last eight games overall after a stretch in which they lost eight of 10.
The Mystics opened the fourth quarter with a 7-0 run to stretch their lead to 52-44 on Tierra Ruffin-Pratt's jumper with 8:20 remaining. Pondexter's two free throws 21 seconds later pulled the Liberty within six.
However, Ruffin-Pratt hit another long jumper with 6:47 left, Langhorne also made a jumper, and Ruffin-Pratt another to push the lead to 58-46 with 4 1/2 minutes to go. New York got no closer than eight the rest of the way.
Both teams struggled for the bulk of the third quarter. Kamiko Williams opened the period with a layup to stretch the Liberty's lead to 36-33, and New York went nearly 7 minutes without scoring while shooting 0 for 8 from the field and 0 for 2 from the line to go along with five turnovers.
Currie tied the score with a 3 with 7:53 to go, and neither team scored until Latta's 3 nearly 4 minutes later put the Mystics ahead. Before the tiebreaker, Washington was 1 for 6 from the field and 0 for 2 from the line with six turnovers in the period.
DeLisha Milton-Jones, making her Liberty debut, hit a jumper to end New York's scoring drought with 2:54 remaining. The teams traded baskets the rest of the period as Washington took a 45-44 lead to the fourth quarter.
Trailing by eight after one, the Liberty held the Mystics scoreless for the first 5:25 of the second while using a 14-0 run to take a 26-20 lead. Smith scored six points during the run, which was capped by Pondexter's jumper with 5:13 remaining.
Latta's jumper ended Washington's drought and started the Mystics' 7-0 run that put them ahead on her 3-pointer with about 3 1/2 minutes left in the first half.
New York regained the lead 22 seconds later on Pierson's reverse layup and stretched the advantage to 32-27 on Pondexter's layup with 1:52 remaining in the period.
Washington scored six of the final eight points of the half to pull to 34-33 at the break on Langhorne's jumper with 24.5 seconds to go.
The Mystics scored eight consecutive points — the last four on layups by former Liberty player Kia Vaughn — to take an 18-10 lead in the final minute of the first quarter.
Bone hit a jumper with about 38 seconds to go, ending New York's scoring drought of nearly 4 minutes. Ruffin-Pratt's jumper 18 seconds later gave Washington a 20-12 lead.