WNBA

Liberty-Mystics Preview

New York Liberty coach Bill Laimbeer vowed his squad wouldn't have as much trouble scoring this season as it did in 2014.

The Liberty have a long way to go to prove him correct, but the offensive explosion in the season opener provided a good starting point.

New York looks to knock off another of last year's Eastern Conference playoff teams when it visits the Washington Mystics on Saturday night.

The Liberty finished 11th in the 12-team league in points per game in 2014, averaging just 72.2 and missing the playoffs for the second straight season after Laimbeer took over before the 2013 campaign.

He traded Cappie Pondexter, who finished second on the club to Tina Charles in scoring at 13.2 points per game, to Chicago in the offseason for Epiphanny Prince in hopes of increasing tempo and adding a veteran scorer.

Prince will miss the first month of the season playing for Russia in the European championships, but her absence didn't matter Friday as Charles finished with 17 points and 12 rebounds in an 82-73 win over Atlanta.

Swin Cash scored 15 points off the bench after her high in 32 games last season was 12 against Washington on Aug. 16. The Liberty shot 48.3 percent from the field despite hitting just 3 of 15 from 3-point range.

"I know that we are going to be intense and how hard we are going to play," Laimbeer told the team's official website. "I know the chemistry of our ballclub. All of these were on display (Friday)."

New York finally was able to step on the court and shake off any distractions that arose from the hiring of Isiah Thomas as team president and potential co-owner.

Madison Square Garden, which paid $11.5 million to settle a sexual harassment lawsuit during Thomas' time with the New York Knicks, released a statement before the game defending Thomas against The Women's Sports Foundation's concerns over Thomas having a role with the club.

After beating the defending East regular-season champion Dream, the Liberty look to keep rolling against a Mystics team that also won its opener.

Ivory Latta finished with 15 points, including four free throws in the final seconds to ice Friday's 73-68 win over Connecticut. Washington shot just 36.8 percent from the field, but Stefanie Dolson hit 7 of 12 and finished with a career-high 18 points and 12 rebounds.

The Mystics held the Sun to 33.8 percent from the floor in a defensive effort that carried over from last year's squad that allowed 73.8 points per game - the fewest in the league.

Washington held New York to just 68.0 points per game in five meetings last season, but the Liberty still won three. The Mystics averaged 69.6 points and 15.4 turnovers in those matchups.

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