The Washington Mystics knew they could take advantage of the injury-depleted New York Liberty.
Chamique Holdsclaw had 19 points and 10 rebounds to lead the Mystics to their third straight victory, 71-54 over the Liberty last night at Madison Square Garden.
"New York is hurting right now," Holdsclaw said. "We just wanted to be real patient and take it to them, attack them and make them have to run and get up and down the floor with us."
The Liberty was down to eight players after announcing that forward Ann Wauters will miss six to eight weeks with a broken bone in her right foot. Center Tari Phillips (broken right hand) and guard Crystal Robinson (broken right pinkie) will be out another couple of weeks.
Rookie Alana Beard added 11 points for Washington, which improved to .500 (8-8) for the first time since it was 1-1 on May 23. The Mystics were coming off a 72-69 home win on Wednesday against Seattle, which is in second place in the Western Conference.
"In the last two games we decided to be a good team," Washington Coach Michael Adams said. "We have to try to keep teams to 60 points or below. That was our goal coming in. They had three starters out due to injury but we did not want to take them lightly."
Vickie Johnson scored 14 points, Elena Baranova had 12 points and 10 rebounds, and rookie Shameka Christon added 11 points for New York, which has lost nine of 11 since opening the season 6-1.
Trailing 37-28 at halftime, the Liberty cut the deficit to five within the first 11/2 minutes of the second half. However, the Mystics went on a 17-7 run to stretch their lead to 15 points. New York didn't get closer than seven the rest of the way.
The Liberty, shooting 42 percent entering the game, were just 20 for 60 (33.3 percent) against the Mystics, including 6 for 26 on three-pointers.
"We have too many good shooters, we have too many good offensive players to shoot 33 percent," Liberty interim coach Pat Coyle said. "That's the thing with this team, when we shoot well we win and when we don't we lose.
"It's tough when you get looks and you don't make shots. We need to start knocking shots down. That's the bottom line."
Becky Hammon had 10 points for the Liberty, but shot just 4 for 15, including 2 for 10 from three-point range. Bethany Donaphin started at center in place of the injured Wauters and Phillips and had 10 rebounds in 24 minutes.
Washington moved into a tie with Detroit for fourth place in the Eastern Conference, 11/2 games behind first-place Connecticut. New York is in last place, 21/2 games out.
* STING 70, STORM 67: Tynesha Lewis scored a career-high 19 points to lead Charlotte over visiting Seattle. Lewis passed her previous best of 16 points with a three-point play late in the game. She scored on a baseline drive that drew a foul, then made the free throw for a 66-60 lead with 2:30 to go.
* FEVER 58, LYNX 56: Stephanie White made two free throws with 1.3 seconds remaining to lead Indiana over visiting Minnesota.