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Mystics-Liberty Preview

AP - Sports

Although a focus on rebounding and defense keyed their longest winning streak of the young season, the Washington Mystics couldn't overcome their struggles on the offensive end to continue that run.

Perhaps Washington will be able to put it all together against the scuffling New York Liberty.

The Mystics seek their best road start in franchise history with their fourth win in five games overall, while the Liberty try to avoid their fourth consecutive defeat Sunday at Madison Square Garden.

Washington, which has allowed WNBA lows of 71.3 points per game and 38.0 percent shooting, outrebounded its opponents 134-91 during a recent three-game winning streak.

The Mystics (4-3) continued that trend Friday, holding an 40-29 edge on the glass and limiting Indiana to 35.0 percent shooting. But they shot a season-worst 29.5 percent and committed 17 turnovers in a 64-61 home loss to Indiana.

''We survived for the last few games on great effort on rebounds and half-court defense and for the most part I think we actually did a pretty good job of that," said coach Mike Thibault, whose club couldn't protect a 16-point first-half lead. "But we were (an) awful offensive basketball team. Absolutely awful.''

Bria Hartley led Washington with 16 points and Ivory Latta contributed 12, but the starting guards shot a combined 7 for 22 overall and 2 for 11 from 3-point range.

The Mystics look to get back on track while improving to 3-0 on the road for the first time. They held Indiana and Connecticut under 35.0 percent shooting with a combined 82-60 rebounding advantage in their first two road wins.

New York (2-5) lost a third straight Thursday, allowing a season high-tying point total in an 87-75 defeat to San Antonio.

Tina Charles finished with 11 points and seven rebounds, well below her 14.9 and 11.0 season averages. The Liberty were held to 10 points on 3-of-15 shooting in the third quarter and committed 21 turnovers in the contest.

''We've got to be mentally stronger," said coach Bill Laimbeer, whose club has given it away 39 times the past two games. "We're not good enough to overcome those types of mistakes. We start turning the ball over and we're not going to win."

New York committed just 13 turnovers at Washington on May 30, but the Mystics used a relentless double-team to hold Charles to a season-low eight points in a 68-60 loss. Cappie Pondexter had a season-high 20 points for the Liberty.

Latta, averaging a team-high 14.1 points, stepped up for the Mystics with 10 of her 15 points in the final four minutes.

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