Liberty 72, Mystics 66

Vickie Johnson, Cathrine Kraayeveld and Becky Hammon hit two free throws each in the final 25 seconds to lead the New York Liberty over the Washington Mystics, 72-66, Tuesday night for its season-high fourth straight victory.

Hammon scored 20 points, Shameka Christon had 17 and Johnson 15 for New York, which pulled within a half-game of second-place Indiana in the Eastern Conference. New York shot 46 percent, including a team-record 10 for 20 on three-pointers.

"It's very important to make sure you're on a roll," Johnson said. "Right now, everything is clicking on the defensive as well as the offensive end."

Temeka Johnson led Washington with 15 points, Charlotte Smith-Taylor added 14 and DeLisha Milton-Jones 13. Chasity Melvin and Alana Beard had 12 points each as the Mystics' starters accounted for all of the team's scoring.

Melvin's layup with 44 seconds remaining gave Washington a 66-64 lead before the Liberty closed with an 8-0 run.

La'Keshia Frett was fouled as she made a tying layup with 25 seconds left, but missed the ensuing free throw. Vickie Johnson grabbed the rebound and was fouled by Smith-Taylor. Johnson hit both shots to give New York a 68-66 lead.

Laurie Koehn missed a long jumper at the other end and Kraayeveld grabbed the rebound and was fouled by Smith-Taylor with 12 seconds left. Kraayeveld's free throws extended the Liberty's lead to four points, and Hammon, who topped 2,000 points for her career, sealed it with her foul shots 10 seconds later.

The Mystics have lost three straight games.

"We had this game in our hands," Mystics Coach Richie Adubato said. "We could have been a half a game behind New York and that game puts us 21/2 back."

* MERCURY 58, SHOCK 51: In Phoenix, Maria Stepanova and Anna DeForge each scored 14 points as Detroit's four-game winning streak came to an end.

The Mercury announced before the game that Stepanova, who is leading the league in blocked shots, would be leaving the team today to rejoin the Russian national team.

* MONARCHS 72, SPARKS 63: Rebekkah Brunson had 17 points and 12 rebounds and Sacramento withstood a 20-0 run by Los Angeles to win on the road.

* LYNX 73, COMETS 62: Chandi Jones scored a career-high 17 points to spark Minnesota past visiting Houston.

New York's Becky Hammon puts up a shot between the Mystics' Charlotte Smith-Taylor, left, and DeLisha Milton-Jones.