Matee Ajavon's career-high 32 help Mystics drop Liberty

WASHINGTON -- Matee Ajavon tied a career high with 32 points to help the Washington Mystics cruise to a 91-81 victory over the New York Liberty on Saturday night.

Crystal Langhorne added 20 points for Washington (4-14), which set a season high for points in regulation and hit 28 of 29 free throws while snapping a four-game skid.

"We're focused," said Ajavon of her team, which is 3½ games out of a playoff spot despite registering just its second victory over an Eastern Conference opponent. "We've dropped some games, and we just know that it's not over."

Cappie Pondexter scored 21 points and Plenette Pierson added 20 for New York (12-9), which lost for the fourth time in 12 games. The Liberty were a perfect 18 for 18 on free throws.

The Mystics also scored a season-high 50 points in a first half during which they shot 56 percent (15 of 27) from the floor and 95 percent (18 of 19) from the line, and outrebounded the Liberty 18-7. Washington finished at 29 for 58 (50 percent) from the field.

"We talked as a team about our mentality changing" Langhorne said of her team's eight-day layoff since their last loss -- 61-59 at the buzzer to conference-leading Indiana. "I think we did have a killer instinct (tonight)."

Washington outscored New York 32-15 in one first-half stretch, eventually pushing the lead to 44-25 when Ajavon hit a 3-pointer from the left wing.

New York closed to it to 50-38 by halftime, but Washington again seized control in the third quarter.

Langhorne found Ajavon for another 3 to stretch the lead to 20, and a couple possessions later put back Ajavon's airball miss to make it 68-46 with 2:57 left in the third. It was the second-largest lead Washington had held all season.

New York, which won two of three games while Washington was idle, edged no closer than nine points during the fourth quarter.

"We've been playing every other night with no practice time, and they haven't, and they were at home," Liberty coach John Whisenant said. "I worried about all this -- that's what kept me awake last night. But it didn't do much good."

Newly acquired center Kara Braxton did not play for New York, two days after a trade that sent forward Sidney Spencer to the Phoenix Mercury. Braxton, a 2007 All-Star who is averaging 10.6 points and 4.9 rebounds this season, is expected to debut Tuesday against Seattle.