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Mystics Lock Up Playoff Spot With Win Over Mercury

Mystics 74, Mercury 67

Associated Press
Saturday, September 18, 2004; Page D10

PHOENIX -- Alana Beard had 23 points and nine rebounds to help the Washington Mystics lock up a playoff spot Friday night with a 74-67 victory over the Phoenix Mercury.

Washington (17-16) has won five in a row and seven of 10 without All-Star Chamique Holdsclaw, who ended her season on Sept. 8 because of an undisclosed medical problem.


Mystics forward Murriel Page, right, tries to get past Mercury guard Diana Taurasi in Washington's 74-67 win. (Tom Hood - AP)

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Diana Taurasi had 25 points for Phoenix, which lost its fourth straight.

The Mercury (16-17) are on the brink of playoff elimination. With the loss, they fell a half-game behind Sacramento for the fourth and final postseason spot in the Western Conference. Phoenix needs the Monarchs to lose their remaining two games -- both at home against the Comets and Minnesota Lynx -- and the Mercury must beat Houston on Sunday.

The Monarchs would win a tiebreaker if both teams end up with identical 17-17 records.

Chasity Melvin added 15 points and 11 rebounds, her first double-double of the season, for Washington, which clinched the postseason berth with Charlotte's loss to San Antonio earlier Friday.

Washington went on a 14-2 run to take a 57-50 lead with 8:53 left. Phoenix never got closer then four the rest of the way.

The Mystics held Phoenix, the WNBA's third-best 3-point shooting team, to 5-of-19 from beyond the arc. Washington also outrebounded Phoenix 36-29.

Despite missing seven of their first eight shots, the Mercury scored the last eight points of the half to take a 39-28 lead at halftime. Taurasi scored 17 points before the half.


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