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Sun Rises Over Mystics

It Tops Washington With Inside Game

Associated Press
Monday, June 21, 2004; Page D03

The Connecticut Sun broke its losing streak yesterday thanks to a simpler game plan.

Taj McWilliams-Franklin dominated inside with 19 points and eight rebounds, and the Sun snapped a two-game skid with a 75-65 win over the Washington Mystics in Uncasville, Conn. The win also lifted Connecticut out of last place in the Eastern Conference.

Asjha Jones has a tall order in front of her, taking ball to the basket against the Mystics' Alana Beard. Washington rookie had five points, two assists. (John Spivey -- AP)

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"We just got the ball in places where we could score," McWilliams-Franklin said. "Either you shoot if you're not covered or you pass it out and let somebody else shoot it. I think we played real simple tonight."

The Sun's defense made it tough on Chamique Holdsclaw, holding her to just four field goals. Holdsclaw finished with 20 points, 12 coming from the line.

Katie Douglas added 18 points for Connecticut, which never trailed and countered every rally with a strong inside game. Connecticut outscored Washington 34-20 inside and finished with a 37-32 edge on the boards.

"Tonight we kept our heads up and kept playing, even when the shots weren't falling," Douglas said.

The Sun led by 17 in the first half. Douglas hit two of her three three-pointers in the final three minutes of the period, and the Sun went into halftime up 43-26, its largest lead of the game.

Washington battled back from the perimeter in the second half. Stacey Dales-Schuman, who finished with 17 points, hit four three-pointers in the second half to help the Mystics close the gap.

Holdsclaw made a pair of free throws with 8 minutes 47 seconds left, and Washington got to 56-52 but no closer. Douglas countered with a three-pointer, and the Sun began to pull away, leading by 13 in the closing minutes.

"We showed a little bit of hunger or fight, but it takes a lot of energy when you have to come back and there was a point where we ran out of gas," Holdsclaw said.

Nykesha Sales finished with 16 points for Connecticut and had a team-high four steals.

The game featured two of the league's top rookies in Connecticut's Lindsay Whalen and Alana Beard of the Mystics. Whalen, an all-American from Minnesota, had eight points and five assists. She averaged 4.3 assists coming into the game to lead all rookies.

Beard, the former Duke star, finished with five points and two assists.

The loss spoiled the homecoming for Mystics Coach Michael Adams, who grew up in Hartford and had a number of friends and relatives in the crowd.

STING 68, SPARKS 63: Allison Feaster scored 20 points and made the tiebreaking three-pointer in double overtime to lift Charlotte at home.

After blowing a 13-point second-half lead, the Sting hit two dramatic three-pointers to force both overtimes. Nicole Powell drained a 25-footer as time expired in regulation, and Tynesha Lewis hit an off-balance three-pointer with 0.4 second left to force the second overtime.

Feaster's three-pointer from the right corner with 54 seconds left broke a tie at 60 and gave the Sting the lead for good. On the ensuing possession, Dawn Staley knocked the ball away from Mwadi Mabika and hit two free throws to preserve the Sting's fourth straight win.

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