After two failed attempts earlier this season, the New York Liberty (7-4) went into the Verizon Center in Washington, D.C. on Friday afternoon looking for their first win of the year over the Washington Mystics (6-5).
And while it took an extra period to seal the deal, the Liberty came out on top 79-76 over the Mystics.
"It was the same thing as before. We just had to shoot better," said Liberty coach Bill Laimbeer. "We're a little different team now than we were then. We are more confident in our ability. We have Epiphanny Prince back as another scorer for us, but overall I think we had a sound game plan to keep them off the glass; they killed us in the first half, second half we took care of business then."
The Liberty started out the game with a 2-0 lead after a quick Tanisha Wright layup. But, they couldn't find a way to stop the Mystics strong offensive attack early on, however, falling behind by nine almost immediately.
It wasn't until the second quarter that the Liberty was able to respond. They went on a 15-6 run to close out the half, giving them a 50-46 lead heading into the break - their first since the opening minutes.
The third quarter and most of the fourth quarter gave neither team an advantage, with the lead switching hands several times. With just 3.1 seconds left in the game, Wright knocked down a pair of free throws to tie the game 69-69, and ultimately sending the game into overtime.
With just under 30 seconds left in the extra period, a put back by Tina Charles and a pair of free throws by Sugar Rogers put the Liberty up by three points, enough to seal the victory.
"It's frustrating to lose this type of game where it's so close, and I think either team had they lost would have said we should have won this game," said Mystics guard Kara Lawson. "It was right there for us to take, and we just didn't execute, and they did."
The Liberty were led by Charles, who finished with 21 points and 10 rebounds. Rogers finished with 15 points, and both Wright and Epiphanny Prince finished with 12 points each.
Stefanie Dolson led the Mystics with 22 points, shooting 61 percent from the field. Kara Lawson and Ivory Latta also finished in double figures for the Mystics, finishing with 14 and 12 points, respectively.
Perhaps the biggest team statistic out of Friday's game was points scored in the paint and rebounds. The Liberty scored 44 points in the paint compared to the Mystics 14, and outrebounded the Mystics by 10. This, Mystics coach Mike Thibault said, is one of the main reasons the Liberty were able to come away with the win.
"We don't come up with the loose ball, and Tina Charles picks it up off the floor and gives them the lead," Thibault said. "We had three chances on that possession to actually gain possession of the ball. We knock it out of each other's hands; we don't come up with it, and then they do and that's the kind of story of why you lose games like that."
With the win, the Liberty now find themselves alone in second place in the Eastern Conference, behind only the Connecticut Sun.