Liberty hold off Mystics to grab second straight win

Sabrina Ionescu scored 24 points and matched her season high of five 3-pointers to lead the New York Liberty to a 74-70 road victory over the Washington Mystics on Friday night.

Natasha Howard converted the go-ahead three-point play while contributing 17 points, seven rebounds and three steals. Rebecca Allen added 11 points as New York (3-7) won its second straight game following a seven-game slide.

Natasha Cloud recorded 17 points and eight assists for Washington (7-4). Elena Delle Donne had 15 points and eight rebounds and Ariel Atkins also scored 15 points before fouling out.

Washington head coach Mike Thibault and assistant coach Shelley Patterson missed the game after entering COVID-19 protocol earlier in the day. Assistant Eric Thibault, son of Mike, served as head coach against New York.

Howard converted a three-point play to give the Liberty a 71-70 lead with 56.1 seconds to play. She later split two free throws to make it a two-point game with 24.6 seconds left.

Delle Donne missed a short shot with just under nine seconds left and Cloud was off the mark from 3-point range with five seconds left before the ball went out of bounds and was rewarded to the Mystics with 4.7 seconds to go.

Myisha Hines-Allen air-balled a turnaround jumper at 1.5 seconds. Allen grabbed the rebound and made two free throws with 0.8 seconds left to seal it for the Liberty.

New York shot 36.5 percent from the field, including 11 of 34 from 3-point range. The Mystics made 40 percent of their shots and were 5 of 21 from behind the arc.

New York scored seven straight points to open up a 46-38 third-quarter lead, capped by Sami Whitcomb’s 3-pointer with 4:23 remaining. But Washington answered with nine straight points and Elizabeth Williams’ basket gave the Mystics a 47-46 edge with 1:44 left.

Ionescu’s 3-pointer 20 seconds later put the Liberty back into the lead and they took a 51-47 lead into the final stanza. Whitcomb added another trey early in the fourth to give New York a seven-point advantage.

Washington responded with a 10-4 rush and moved within 58-57 on Cloud’s three-point play with 5:02 left.

The Mystics moved ahead 62-61 when Cloud split two free throws with 3:07 remaining.

Ionescu scored 10 first-half points as the Liberty held a 30-28 lead at the break.

–Field Level Media

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