Mystics 77, Dream 71
After today's win in front of a lively Verizon Center crowd, the 2009 Mystics can officially say they're off to the best start in franchise history as the first team to begin 2-0 in Washington's 12 seasons. But as Marissa Coleman said afterward, that's little consolation when they have to face defending champion Detroit on Wednesday.
More impressive than the win itself however, was how the Mystics responded to an ugly first quarter. Washington's young guns came off the bench for the second quarter unfazed by the 22-8 deficit that was displayed by the scoreboards.
Matee Ajavon and Tasha Humphrey started the furious rally, each with two 3-pointers to lead a 19-4 run to start the frame that culminated with Nakia Sanford's two free throws to give the Mystics a 27-26 edge. It was the only lead change in the game.
Most of the Mystics agreed the slow start was because of home-opener jitters, while they couldn't find the basket they managed to cause turnovers and create opportunities for themselves.
"We took a lot of outside shots," Coach Julie Plank said, "which was totally different than what we did in Connecticut. We got to the bonus early last night...I thought we settled for a lot of outside shots and we weren't hitting."
Last season, many wouldn't have been surprised to see the Mystics unravel after a quarter of 3-of-18 shooting that led to a 22-8 deficit. But that, Alana Beard said, is one of the big differences about this year's squad.
"The great thing about [the slow start] is no one got rattled," Beard said. "We kept our poise. Matee Ajavon and Marissa Coleman came in off the bench and gave us so much energy. They were the ones that really turned the game around."
Second Quarter Rally
The Mystics outscored Atlanta 30-8 in that second quarter comeback, with 24 of those points coming from players with no more than one full season of WNBA experience in Marissa Coleman (7), Crystal Langhorne (3), Matee Ajavon (8) and Tasha Humphrey (6).
Atlanta's decision to double-team the post players seemed like a good one early in the game as the Mystics offense couldn't find its rhythm or any shots that would fall. But it was clear early in the second that Washington had adjusted and was prepared to pummel the Dream from behind the arc. The Mystics were 6 of 8 from 3-point range in the frame.
"That quarter just set the tone for the rest of the game," Coleman said. "Our depth is exciting. I'm not sure how many other teams in the WNBA can match that coming off the bench. We essentially have a whole other starting five coming off the bench."
Washington gave the three former Mystics a warm welcome during introductions -- I may be wrong but it sounded like the applause for Coco Miller was one of the loudest, perhaps second best behind the cheers heard for Coleman.
Miller had a 17-point night and did everything she could to keep the Dream actively fighting to get back in the game. Chamique Holdsclaw (12 points) recorded her 4,000th career point in the loss and Nikki Teasley exited the game early, fouling out after just 7:41 minutes of playing time.
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