Mercury 93, Mystics 87
For the third straight game the Mystics got off to a slow start, playing at an uncharacteristically slow pace, but while they were able to recover from it once again they were never able to throw a wrench in Phoenix's WNBA-leading offense. Sure, they proved they can run-and-gun with the best of them, but that's little consolation when a team that spent the past week emphasizing ways to force the Mercury out of their transition game never succeeded at that goal.
"We didn't get stops at crucial times during the game," Alana Beard said. "I thought we did a great job of picking up our defense and attacking them just the way they were attacking us, but towards the end we were trading baskets. We couldn't put together three and four stops in a row when we needed that."
The loss is the Mystics' first defeat at home in Verizon Center, which housed a reported 9,808 spectators last night.
The Mystics are becoming far too familiar with sluggish performances early in a game. After Monique Currie hit a turn-around jumper with 6 minutes and 27 seconds remaining in the first quarter they weren't able to record a field goal until 7:36 later when Matee Ajavon hit a 3-pointer in the second.
No players were exempt from the dry spell, but the shooting struggles were no more apparent than during the Mystics first possession of the second quarter when Chasity Melvin failed on three layup attempts in a span of about 10-12 seconds. That play alone prompted quite a few groans from the crowd.
"We were all pretty frustrated that we weren't making any shots," Crystal Langhorne said. "We were down by (13) and we just needed to start playing our game. We were just missing shots -- easy shots too -- layups, everything. You just can't come out that slow against an offensive team."
What Sophomore Slump?
With her game-high 12 rebounds tonight, Crystal Langhorne now boasts the best rebounds per game average in the WNBA at 8.5 in just six games. Chicago's Sylvia Fowles (8.1), Atlanta's Sancho Lyttle (8.0) and Los Angeles' Tina Thompson (8.0) round out the top four.
Langhorne scored 14 points in the second half to help the Mystics close the gap on Phoenix and was crucial to Washington outscoring the Mercury 44-36 in the paint.
Everyone appears to be taking notice of the second-year center's development, because Langhorne has turned in strong, consistent performances in every game this season after taking quite a few lumps as a rookie.
Beard Leads the Way
In addition to Langhorne, Beard was quite the catalyst for Washington in an effort to tie the game in the third quarter. They found open looks for her in the low block that helped her score nine of the Mystics final 12 points in the frame.
Despite her team-high 21 points though, she wasn't immune to the scoring droughts though and struggled to turn in an efficient performance -- going 9 of 21 from field goal range.
Odds and Ends
*The biggest problem in playing Phoenix's style? The low shot success rate. The Mystics went 33 of 79 from field goal range.
*The Mystics were without a national anthem singer before the game, which led to President Sheila Johnson showing off her singing abilities. I thought she fared pretty well in the impromptu performance.
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