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Liberty rallies past Washington Mystics, 93-88

Liberty guard Cappie Pondexter, right, drives against the

Liberty guard Cappie Pondexter, right, drives against the Washington Mystics. (August 6, 2013) Credit: Jason DeCrow

NEWARK - The home cooking just hasn't tasted right for the Liberty lately.

Losers of three straight at the Prudential Center entering Tuesday morning's "Camp Day" game against Washington, the Liberty hoped to get a spark from the loud roar of several thousand children in attendance.

The desired result was achieved as the Liberty rallied from 14 points down in the fourth quarter for a 93-88 victory over the Mystics.

It was one of the more resilient fourth-quarter performances of the season for the Liberty, which trailed 79-65 with 8:15 left in the game.

"Bill [Laimbeer] called a timeout and I think the huddle got a little tense with players speaking what they felt," Cappie Pondexter said. "That kind of turned things around . . . We made some big plays down the stretch, knocked some free throws in and got stops."

It was also the most efficient game of the season for the Liberty, which shot a season-high 54.7 percent from the field and committed just 10 turnovers.

Alex Montgomery had a career-high 21 points off the bench, Pondexter had 21 points and eight assists and Kara Braxton chipped in 16 points and five rebounds.

Katie Smith added 11 points, shooting 5-for-8, and Plenette Pierson turned in an all-around performance with eight points, 10 assists and six rebounds.

"I just think we're coming together game by game and looking for each other," said Braxton, who reached double figures for the third straight game. "We're becoming more confident and comfortable with each other."

Aside from halting a three-game losing streak, the Liberty (9-12) took a half-game lead on the Mystics (9-13) in the Eastern Conference standings and has sole possession of the fourth and final playoff spot.

"It was an important game for them and for us," Laimbeer said. "The winner of this game got a little bit of a leg up. We also hold the tiebreaker on them coming down the stretch. We have two more games with them."

Crystal Langhorne had 24 points and former St. John's guard and New Jersey native Nadirah McKenith had nine points and three assists off the bench for the Mystics.

One troubling aspect of the Liberty's recent play is its bad third quarters. Although it wasn't a complete meltdown Tuesday for the Liberty, Washington ended the third on an 8-0 run for a 71-62 lead.

"With this team, the third quarter is always up and down," Montgomery said. "If we have a good start to the third quarter, then it's meant for us to win. If we have a bad quarter, it's going to be tough."

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