WASHINGTON (AP) The Washington Mystics avenged a disappointing loss and improved their position in the Eastern Conference on the same night.
Ivory Latta scored 16 points, Kia Vaughn had 12 and the Mystics beat the New York Liberty 79-46 on Tuesday.
The second-place Mystics (14-15) stopped a two-game slide and moved 1 1/2 games ahead of the Liberty (12-16) in the East. New York dropped into fifth, a half-game back of Chicago and Indiana.
Washington shot 52 percent from the field and held New York to 29 percent. The Mystics grabbed control with a 29-6 first-half run. They led 37-22 at the break and outscored the Liberty 27-13 in the third quarter.
”Actually got to relax for a fourth quarter. Obviously a great win,” Mystics coach Mike Thibault said following his team’s most lopsided victory of the season. ”We played well at both ends.”
Combined with Indiana’s loss to Minnesota, Washington grabbed sole possession of second place. The Mystics face the Fever in Indiana on Friday.
Tina Charles had 10 points for the Liberty, who had won eight of 12 games. The 46 points were the fewest in franchise history.
”We have out moments like this throughout the course of the year where we just collectively don’t play,” Liberty coach Bill Laimbeer said.
Washington leads the season series 2-1. The final meeting with New York doubles as the Mystics’ regular-season finale on Aug. 16.
The Mystics lost 80-76 in overtime at New York on July 29.
”Our intensity was amazing,” Latta said of Tuesday’s performance. ”We were out there rebounding, talking to each other, making the extra pass. Just the little things I don’t think we did in the game in New York.”
Tayler Hill, selected fourth overall by Washington in the 2013 WNBA draft, entered in the fourth quarter and played six minutes in her first appearance since giving birth on June 18.
The Mystics turned 16 Liberty turnovers into 22 points. New York only scored six points off Washington’s 15 turnovers.
Charles was the only New York player in double figures. The Liberty went nearly nine minutes without a point during the first half. They missed 13 straight field-goal attempts and committed four turnovers in that span.
”They played harder than we did. There is no question about that. That was the key to the game,” Laimbeer said. ”It’s a little discouraging, but it’s just one game.”