Maybe the growing pains finally set in, or maybe they came up against a strong team at the wrong time, but Sunday night, not even the Liberty's hot start was a match for a whole lotta Latta.
Washington Mystics forward Ivory Latta scored 20 points in the Liberty's 74-59 loss at Madison Square Garden, including 10 in a pivotal second-quarter run that gave the Mystics the lead for good. It was, in part, because of the inexperience of rookie Brittany Boyd, who coach Bill Laimbeer said was victimized by her own aggressiveness, and the Mystics' (4-1) size and physicality.
"We got a little exposed tonight," Laimbeer said. "We count so much on Tina [Charles] to score and she had a really bad night offensive-wise . . . [and Latta] made some shots when Brittany was over-rotating to [defend Armintie] Herrington. "[Boyd's] aggressiveness got the most of her four or five times tonight and she went somewhere she wasn't supposed to go."
The Mystics have handed the Liberty its two losses this season. Before Sunday, the Liberty was off to its best start since 2007.
Essence Carson and Carolyn Swords each had 12 points to lead a Liberty team that shot only 31 percent from the field, 12.5 from downtown and committed 19 turnovers.
The score was tied at 12 going into the second period, but Sugar Rodgers' three, followed by a driving layup by Charles (four points), gave the Liberty a 21-15 lead with 6:39 left in the second.
And that's when Latta woke up.
Latta, still scoreless, banked in a jumper to cut the deficit to four and, later, with 4:56 to go, her straightaway three gave Washington a 23-21 lead. She immediately followed that with a layup and another trey -- this time off a steal from Herrington -- to complete a 13-0 run.
"[Latta] was aggressive, she was making her shots, she was very up-tempo and she was interacting well with her teammates," Boyd said. "You've got to learn."
The Mystics (4-1) led by as many as eight in the second period. A 13-6 run midway through the third eventually earned the Mystics a 15-point lead, at 52-37.
Notes & quotes: The Liberty announced that Rebecca Allen would miss the remainder of the season with a right knee cartilage injury.