Mystics rally falls short vs. Liberty

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Mystics rally falls short vs. Liberty

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Cappie Pondexter scored 25 points, the New York Liberty took control with a 30-5 first-half run and survived a frantic fourth quarter for their first road victory of the season, 76-70 over the Washington Mystics on Friday night.

Leilani Mitchell hit four 3-pointers and scored 16 points for the Liberty, winners of three straight after opening the season 0-5. The latest victory also snapped a five-game losing streak in Washington dating to the 2009 season. The Liberty lost their three previous road games this season by an average of 21.3 points.

New York shot 60 percent (21 of 35) from the field in the first half, including 5 of 6 from beyond the arc and held a 29 point with just under nine minutes 9 in the second quarter.

Crystal Langhorne led the Mystics (1-5) with 24 points.

Trailing 65-45 late in the third quarter, the Mystics pulled closer when Langhorne fueled a 15-2 run, followed by a spree of 3-point field goals. Matee Ajavon drilled her second from beyond the arc in the fourth quarter with 1:37 remaining as Washington trailed 73-70, but Essence Carson countered with a 3-pointer of her own on New York's next possession.

Langhorne scored 10 points during the second-half rally. In her first start this season, Michelle Snow finished with 10 points and 12 rebounds.

With the Liberty leading 12-8 midway through the first quarter, Pondexter's running layup started a 13-0 run. Up 27-13, New York had a 15-0 spurt capped by Carson's three-point play that made it 42-13. Pondexter had 16 points in the first half, while Mitchell was perfect on three attempts from beyond the arc.

The Liberty's recent good fortune has coincided with increased production from the starting backcourt.

After failing to score 20 points in the opening five games, Pondexter has topped that mark in three straight, averaging 25.3 points. In that span, Mitchell has connected on 11 of 18 (61.1 percent) 3-point attempts.

Carson finished with 13 points for the Liberty.

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Many changes in Redskins secondary but David Bruton healthy, ready to go

Many changes in Redskins secondary but David Bruton healthy, ready to go

 With DeAngelo Hall out for the year the Redskins secondary must adjust at one safety position, but on the other side, David Bruton feels just fine.

"I feel good," Bruton said on Wednesday. He explained that he has a few bumps and bruises, but that's normal for Week 4 in the NFL. Bruton added that after the game in New York he  iced his knee, but his hamstring felt just fine. 

The former Broncos special teams star has started three games for the Skins at safety this season. He almost grabbed two interceptions last week against the Giants, but has had other plays where he seemed out of alignment. That problem is not unique to Bruton, however, as in various spots the 'Skins defense has seem confused in different formations depending on down and distance. 

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As for the Redskins secondary expect to continue to see Bruton lined up at safety, now most often next to Will Blackmon. While Deshazor Everett and Duke Ihenacho should get more snaps than they had been, at this point, it seems unlikely Bruton's play will be reduced. Before Hall went down in New York on some third downs Blackmon replaced Bruton. Obviously, for the remainder of the season that plan won't work. 

"We have a lot of good options out there," 'Skins coach Jay Gruden said. "Not overly concerned about the defensive backfield."

Against the Giants on one near interception Bruton and rookie Su'a Cravens went for the same Eli Manning pass, and after the game in the locker room, the players joked about who was to blame for not getting the pick. On the other, it appeared Bruton pulled off a remarkable interception, stealing the ball from Giants running back Bobby Rainey in the end zone. Replay ruled the pass incomplete, prompting confusion from Gruden.

"I’ve heard that everybody says it was an interception except for the replay guy," Gruden said. "I thought his elbow was down, I thought his butt was down, I thought he had control of the ball. I thought it was a clear challengeable play, it just didn’t work out for us. I don’t know what a catch is anymore. I don’t know if anybody does."

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After shadowing Odell Beckham, Redskins have different plans for Josh Norman against Terrelle Pryor

After shadowing Odell Beckham, Redskins have different plans for Josh Norman against Terrelle Pryor

Mountains worth of words were used to predict and then describe Josh Norman's matchup with Odell Beckham last Sunday. On game day, the Redskins star corner ended up primarily covering the Giants star receiver. While Beckham succeeded in going for more than 100 yards, Norman's team got the win, while Beckham set the Internet meme machine ablaze by trying to fight a kicking net.

This week when the Redskins face off against the Browns there will be much less hype, yet another skilled wideout for the Washington defense to contend with in Terrelle Pryor.

"He’s a great athlete," Washington coach Jay Gruden said of Pryor. "He’s big, he’s got great ball skills."

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Last week in a loss to Miami, Pryor accounted for 200 total yards - 144 receiving, 21 rushing and 35 passing - to go with one touchdown. He's been a force for the Browns this season, using his athletic skill and versatility to line up all over the field. A dual-threat quarterback in college at Ohio State, the Browns like to try Pryor in different spots. Perhaps because of his ability to play all over the field, it seems the Redskins do not intend to have Norman travel in coverage on Pryor.

"We’re still working on our game plan now and [Pryor's] all over the place. He’s been a dynamic player in the NFL," Gruden said. "Team defense is gonna have to take him away, somebody different every time possibly."

Gruden called Pryor's early season success one of the "biggest surprises" in the NFL and it's clear the Browns top wideout is on the Redskins radar. Considering Norman didn't shadow Antonio Brown or Dez Bryant during Washington's contests against those two top wideouts, the decision to cover Pryor collectively seems unsurprising. 

That could change, however, if Pryor begins to pile up catches and yards like he did last week in Miami.

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