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Beard Gets Mystics on Track

"She's so much more aggressive, so much more confident," Smith said. "You can just tell that she has a confidence to her now that I haven't seen before. She looks like she's going to be a force in this league."

Beard might have been better off yesterday if she hadn't passed the ball, especially in the first half. She had as many field goals in the first 20 minutes (six) as the rest of her teammates combined. The difference? Beard made all six of her shots in the half, while her teammates shot 22 percent.

Keisha Brown gets her hands on the ball to begin a fast break for the Mystics, who won their sixth straight at home. (Jonathan Newton -- The Washington Post)

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The Mystics negated every Beard success with a series of malfunctions. Beard hit back-to-back jumpers in the first two minutes; her teammates turned the ball over on the following three possessions.

Beard swooped to the basket for a crowd-pleasing, left-handed layup to give the Mystics a 28-24 lead; the Mystics failed to make a single field goal over the next six minutes.

"You can't have everything working all the time," Mystics forward Murriel Page said. "But we had Alana going, and she really picked us up."

SHOCK 63, STING 53: Swin Cash had 16 points and a season-high 14 rebounds to lead Detroit at home.

Ruth Riley, named to join Cash on the U.S. Olympic team earlier in the week, also had 16 for Detroit. Cheryl Ford added nine points and nine rebounds for the Shock (11-12), winners for just the second time in six games.

Charlotte (10-11) lost its fourth straight.

Olympian Dawn Staley led the Sting with 12 points, and Allison Feaster added 10.

Detroit used a 21-7 rebounding edge to open a 30-21 lead at halftime. Cash had eight rebounds for the Shock in the opening 20 minutes.

SPARKS 70, COMETS 67: Mwadi Mabika scored 19 points to lead host Los Angeles to victory.

Lisa Leslie added 16 points, 11 rebounds and 4 blocked shots for the Western Confernence leading Sparks.

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