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Mystics Lose, Remain Winless at Home

Nine-Point Halftime Lead Dissolved by Poor Shooting: Sun 72, Mystics 63

By Camille Powell
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, June 5, 2004; Page D11

The MCI Center is a warm and friendly place for the Washington Mystics, who always seem to draw some of the WNBA's best and biggest crowds. But that home-court advantage hasn't yielded a victory thus far this season for the Mystics, who lost their third straight home game last night, 72-63 to the Connecticut Sun before 13,246.

"I don't know, we can't win" at home, guard Alana Beard said. "I know personally and as a team, we want to give [a win] to the fans so bad. We're blessed to have fans like we do, they still come out even though we're not producing victories. But it'll come. It'll come."

Alana Beard, defended by Lindsay Whalen, looks for shot. Chamique Holdsclaw led Mystics with 25 points, Beard had 13. "I know personally and as a team, we want to give [a win] to the fans so bad," Beard said. (Joel Richardson -- The Washington Post)

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Chamique Holdsclaw once again led the Mystics (2-4), scoring 25 points on 9-of-20 shooting. Beard added 13; no one else had more than eight points.

The Mystics faltered badly in the second half against a team that was playing its second game in as many days. Washington shot 48.5 percent in the first half as it built a 39-30 advantage at the break; it shot just 27.6 percent and was outscored 42-24 afterward.

The Mystics continued to do a better job rebounding; they outrebounded the Sun by a 33-31 margin, and held Connecticut (3-2) to just eight second-chance points. Washington outscored Connecticut in the lane, 30-24, but the Mystics got little production from their post players. Forward Aiysha Smith and centers Nakia Sanford and Chasity Melvin attempted only nine shots, making four.

"It wasn't tough [to work the ball inside], we just didn't do it," Beard said. "We didn't run the plays to get the ball inside, or if we did run the plays inside, we didn't get it inside."

Reserve center Murriel Page made 4 of 5 shots, but most of those were long jumpers. Melvin, the veteran who was acquired during the offseason to help shore up the front court, attempted only two shots in 25 minutes.

"We need somebody who's definitely going to be a presence inside for us consistently," Holdsclaw said. "Having that one player to pound it in to."

Washington Coach Michael Adams stuck with the same starting line-up -- Holdsclaw, Beard, Stacey Dales-Schuman, Smith and Sanford -- that proved so successful in Wednesday's victory at defending champion Detroit.

And they helped Washington get off to a terrific start. The Mystics opened up a 12-point lead over the first 11 minutes in impressive fashion; they made 10 of 20 shots, outrebounded the Sun by an 11-5 margin, and forced five turnovers.

Washington led, 39-30, at halftime, though Adams said he felt that the lead could've been at least 15 points, considering the way his team was playing.

But things changed after the break. The Sun made five of their first six shots of the second half -- including three shots from beyond the arc -- to whittle the Mystics' lead to one, 46-45. Connecticut rookie Lindsay Whalen (career-high 13 points) banked in a three-pointer from the top of the key with 12 minutes 7 seconds left to give the Sun its first lead (50-49) since the first minute of the game.

With eight minutes to play, Holdsclaw was called for a pushing foul against Debbie Black. She stood over Black, pumped her fists and shouted, "Yeah!"

Black stood up and appeared to walk right into Holdsclaw's chest (though the 5-foot-3 Black barely came up to the chin of the 6-2 Holdsclaw). Black gave Holdsclaw a small forearm shove, and Holdsclaw was whistled for a technical foul for taunting.

That exchange seemed to spark the Mystics, at least temporarily, to a 58-57 lead.

But from that point on, the Mystics made only two more field goals. They didn't score a single point during the final 3:08, though two shots -- a pull-up from Holdsclaw and a three-pointer from Dales-Schuman -- teased them by popping out of the basket.

Mystics Note: The Mystics had a short bench; point guard Tamicha Jackson (strained right hamstring) and guard Coco Miller (sprained right ankle), both of whom started the first four games of the season, watched in street clothes .

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