Cappie Pondexter's late bucket lifts Liberty over Mystics

NEWARK, N.J. -- With the Liberty trailing in the final seconds, New York coach John Whisenant knew exactly who was going to get the ball.

"We had one play there," he said. "We got to give it to Cappie."

They did, and Pondexter made a driving basket with 13.5 seconds left to put the Liberty ahead for good in their 69-66 win over the Washington Mystics.

"We told her to read the play and if someone was open, then she could pass it off," Whisenant said. "But if you have a scorer, you don't want the scorer thinking too much about passing, because then the scorer becomes too hesitant. Cappie took it to the basket and made the shot."

Pondexter scored 26 points against the Mystics and former Rutgers teammate Matee Ajavon.

Playing in her hometown, Ajavon nailed a clutch 3-pointer with 25.3 seconds left to give the Mystics their first lead of the entire game at 66-65, after trailing by 16 in the first half.

But Pondexter drove the lane against Ajavon, her former Rutgers teammate, and her shot rattled home.

"I knew she was guarding me, but I knew I could take it to the basket and score," Pondexter said.

The Liberty (14-11) had dropped two straight, including a 64-63 loss in Washington that Pondexter remembers well because she also had a shot in the closing seconds.

"I didn't make that shot. I didn't want the same thing to happen again," Pondexter said. "I wanted to be aggressive and I believed I could make the shot."

Crystal Langhorne scored 25 points for the Mystics (5-17).

Kara Braxton blocked Langhorne's attempted drive to the basket with 2 seconds left. Plenette Pierson, who had 16 points for the Liberty, made a free throw with 0.7 seconds left.

Ajavon, who scored 32 points in the Mystics' win over the Liberty Aug. 12, was held to 12 points.

"All our games have been close lately," Whisenant said. "I wish I had an explanation for our lulls. We are obviously not where we need to be, but we're still right there in the playoff hunt."