Mystics fall to Liberty

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Mystics fall to Liberty

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Trailing by nine points with about nine minutes remaining, a loss to last place Washington could have dealt a serious blow to the New York Liberty's playoff chances.

However, thanks to Cappie Pondexter, Nicole Powell and some stifling defense, the Liberty remain in control of their future.

Pondexter had 30 points, including 10 in the fourth quarter, and 11 rebounds as the Liberty rallied to beat the Mystics 75-68.

"Defense is our key," Liberty coach John Whisenant said. "And Cappie. She's been awesome. She's our MVP and the most important player to her team of anybody in the league."

Powell scored 10 of her 18 points in the fourth quarter as well and Essence Carson added 15 points as New York (14-17) won its third straight.

The Liberty retained a one game lead over Chicago for the fourth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. The Sky beat Phoenix 86-55.

Jasmine Thomas scored 16 points (on 7-of-11 shooting) and Monique Currie had 12 to lead the Washington (5-27), which has lost 11 straight.

"I think we played a tough game. We fought through until the end," Currie said. "They executed better than we did. They made some tough shots, some big shots."

After Washington scored the first four points of the fourth quarter to take a 56-49 lead, Pondexter scored the first six of an 8-0 run by the Liberty. The Mystics pushed the lead to 63-58 with 4:36 left and New York called timeout.

"When it looked like they could take over the game with about four minutes left, we had a time out, talked about it, and regrouped," Pondexter said.

Powell's 3-pointer tied the score at 63 with 2:50 left and her short jumper gave the Liberty a 67-65 lead with 1:34 to play.

"Nicole made some huge shots down the stretch," Pondexter said.

After a miss by Currie, Kara Braxton scored on a layup off a nice pass from Pondexter to make it 69-65 with 48 seconds left.

"I think we stepped up our defensive intensity when it mattered most," Pondexter said.

Matee Ajavon missed a short jumper and Pondexter hit two three throws. Thomas's 3-pointer made it 71-68 with 19 seconds to go, but the Mystics got no closer.

"Coming into the stretch I don't know if it's a loss of focus, or what it is, but we have to figure it out," said Thomas.

The Liberty outrebounded the Mystics 13-4 in the fourth quarter.

"We only gave them one shot so we were blocking out well," Whisenant said. "Nicole Powell got a couple of rebound putbacks that were critical when the basket was shrinking up on us a little bit."

The Mystics' Ashley Robinson finished with 10 points and 10 rebounds.

Washington outscored New York 19-12 in the third quarter and built a five-point lead as the Liberty hit just 5-of-22 field goals.

Washington played without leading scorer Crystal Langhorne (14.7 ppg), who left Friday's loss to Atlanta with a left foot sprain, and Noelle Quinn (6.5 ppg), out with an injured right shoulder.

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Updating Redskins' injury list after loss to Cardinals

Updating Redskins' injury list after loss to Cardinals

GLENDALE, AZ—The Redskins went into today’s game against the Cardinals somewhat banged up and they exit with a couple of additional injury concerns in the form of concussions.

Center Spencer Long left the game in the second quarter. Initially it was announced that he had been evaluated for a concussion but that he had been cleared. But after halftime the word came down that he had been retested and it was determined that he does have a concussion. Long has entered the concussion protocol.

Veteran John Sullivan, picked up earlier this season when Kory Lichtensteiger went on injured reserve, filled in a center the rest of the way. He is a capable fill-in but if Long is out he would be the only available center. The Redskins might have to sign a center if it looks like Long will be out of action against the Eagles.

In the fourth quarter safety Will Blackmon left the game. According to Redskins coach Jay Gruden he was being evaluated for a concussion and a stinger. His exact status is unknown. Gruden will give more information during a conference call with reporters on Monday.

[MORE: JOSH NORMAN ON HIS CRUCIAL FOURTH-QUARTER PENALTY]

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Josh Norman on his crucial fourth-quarter penalty vs. Larry Fitzgerald

Josh Norman on his crucial fourth-quarter penalty vs. Larry Fitzgerald

GLENDALE, AZ—The Redskins had a couple of chances to stop what would eventually turn into the Cardinals’ game-clinching drive in the fourth quarter. The first one came when they went for it on fourth and one at their own 34. It was a gutsy call by Arizona coach Bruce Arians and David Johnson make him look smart by popping off a 14-yard run.

The Cards earned that one. But it looked as though they got something of a gift a few plays later when Josh Norman was flagged holding receiver Larry Fitzgerald. It was a borderline call, granting Arizona a gift third and five conversion. Two plays later Carson Palmer went in for the kill, throwing a 42-yard touchdown pass to J.J. Nelson.

On the field, Norman seemed to be none too pleased with the penalty flag. He said after the game that he thinks that Fitzgerald may have stolen a flag.

“He [Fitzgerald] was within five yards. Larry is a wily vet,” said Norman. “I'd been doing it all game, kind of . . . He breaks out and I go for the ball and the flag got thrown. We'd like to see that not happen in that situation because there was some good position, some good leverage. And a flag came out.

“It is what it is. You can't blame a call on that, blame a call on this. It's whatever, man.”

Norman is right. The Redskins blew plenty of chances to take control of the game and the blame can be spread around on both sides of the ball. But the flag will loom large as the Redskins try to shake off this loss and get ready for the Eagles next week.

[MORE: ANGRY JAY GRUDEN SAYS REDSKINS 'NOT EVEN CLOSE' TO THINKING ABOUT PLAYOFFS]