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Natasha Howard leads Liberty over Mystics

May 9, 2019; New York City, NY, USA; A general view of the game ball during the preseason WNBA game between the New York Liberty and the China National Team at Barclays Center.  Mandatory Credit: Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports
Credit: Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

Natasha Howard scored a season-high 27 points to lead the New York Liberty to a solid 77-65 victory over the visiting Washington Mystics on Thursday night.

Howard made 13 of 17 field-goal attempts and grabbed nine rebounds as New York (6-9) won for the fifth time in the past seven games.

Han Xu added 12 points on 6-of-7 shooting for the Liberty, who are 2-0 against Washington this season.

Natasha Cloud had 17 points and seven assists and Ariel Atkins added 11 points for the Mystics (10-7), who lost for the second time in five games.

Washington star Elena Delle Donne was rested as part of the franchise’s plan to protect her repeated back troubles.

New York’s Sabrina Ionescu had 10 points, nine assists, seven rebounds and four steals but was just 3 of 16 from the floor and missed all eight 3-point attempts.

In the club’s previous game, Ionescu recorded a triple-double of 27 points, 13 rebounds and 12 assists in a loss to the Chicago Sky.

The Liberty shot 44.9 percent from the field, including a shaky 6 of 31 from 3-point range. The Mystics made 36.9 percent of their shots and were 8 of 29 from behind the arc.

New York held a 63-50 lead after Michaela Onyenwere drained a 3-pointer with 7:44 left to play.

Just more than 2 1/2 minutes later, Sami Whitcomb buried a straightaway 3-pointer to make it 68-54 with 5:05 remaining.

Washington moved within 70-61 with 2:13 left on a basket by Kennedy Burke, but New York pushed the lead back to 12 and closed out the victory.

Howard scored 16 first-half points as New York led 40-35 at the break.

The Liberty received 3-pointers from Howard and Stefanie Dolson to start the third quarter to increase the lead to 11.

Atkins made two 3-pointers over a span of 3:01 as the Mystics cut their deficit to 48-41. New York pushed its lead to 56-46 entering the final stanza.

–Field Level Media