NEW YORK (AP) – 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 their 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.

Rookie of the Year candidate 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 a second later.

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 sealed it with her foul shots 10 seconds later.

New York shot 46 percent, including 8-for-16 on 3-pointers. The Liberty have rallied from a halftime deficit in each game of their winning streak.

The Mystics lost their third straight game despite shooting 58 percent.

Johnson hit a pair of free throws to give the Liberty a 42-41 lead 12 seconds into the second half. Washington then went on a 13-4 spurt, capped by Smith-Taylor’s layup, to take an eight-point lead with just under 14 minutes left.

Christon scored six points in 23 seconds with a 3-pointer and a three-point play to bring the Liberty within 54-51 with 11:28 remaining. New York had an 8-0 run, including 3s by Kraayeveld and Christon, to take a 60-58 lead with 4:53 left.

After Beard made a layup 26 seconds later to tie the game, Vickie Johnson missed two free throws with 4:11 remaining. DeLisha Milton-Jones hit a 3 and Temeka Johnson made 1-of-2 from the line to give the Mystics a 64-60 lead.

The Liberty opened 5-for-6 on 3-pointers to build a 21-12 lead 7:11 into the game.

After the teams traded baskets, the Mystics started chipping away. Washington had a 7-0 run, capped by Smith-Taylor’s 3 and fastbreak layup, to tie the game at 30 with 3:57 remaining in the half.

Johnson’s three-point play 37 seconds later gave Washington a 33-32 lead, its first since 2-0.

Washington led 41-40 at halftime.

AP-ES-08-16-05 2225EDT


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