Mystics Recover But Can't Finish
Comeback Ends in Second Straight Loss: Lynx 73, Mystics 62
By Ben Goessling
Special to The Washington Post
Saturday, May 29, 2004; Page D08
MINNEAPOLIS, May 28 -- It took most of the first half for the scoreboard at Target Center to display individual statistics from Friday's game between the Mystics and Minnesota Lynx -- which meant the board showed up for work just a few minutes before Washington did.
If Washington's effort in the first five minutes had been even close to the energy it expended trying to erase the effects of its lackluster start, the Mystics might have left with a win. Then again, nothing in the team's history so far this season suggests Washington can be counted on for a strong opening.
Minnesota (2-2) opened the game on an 18-2 run, with Katie Smith scoring eight points before the Mystics hit a field goal, and the Lynx survived a bumpy second half to win, 73-62, before 6,361.
It was the second straight game in which the Mystics have trailed by 10 or more in the first half. Washington also blew a 14-point first-half lead in a 68-67 win over Indiana last Sunday.
"It looks like we have to get better energy from our bench, because our starters have not come out with the frame of mind that we have to play defense to start a game," Mystics first-year coach Michael Adams said.
Chamique Holdsclaw, who averaged 23.7 points per game in the Mystics' first three contests, scored 16. She and Stacey Dales-Schuman were the only Mystics players in double figures. Washington shot 37 percent from the field, including a 3-for-18 performance from three-point territory.
Minnesota, by comparison, made 8 of 14 threes.
The Mystics (1-3) scored 28 points off 23 Lynx turnovers and got within one early in the second half but never led. Smith scored a game-high 28 points and made all 12 of her free throws.
Adams stressed a need for improved rebounding at Thursday's practice, and he got it -- the Mystics grabbed 31 boards, three more than their season average.
But part of the improvement was merely Washington picking up after itself -- 12 of its rebounds were on the offensive end.
Rookie forward Alana Beard scored her only two points on a layup with 31 seconds left. Beard got in foul trouble early and gave Adams no real reason to keep her in late. She was 1 for 8 from the field and was victimized by Smith during the game's opening stretch.
"Katie Smith is a great player, and I guess she taught a rookie tonight," Beard said. "I don't think I was ever in a groove."
Washington's first field goal didn't come until Dales-Schuman scored on a layup with 13 minutes 44 seconds left in the first half. The Mystics missed their first nine field goal attempts and shot a dismal 32.4 percent in the first period. But Washington got within seven after a 9-0 run capped by a Murriel Page jumper with 10:30 left.
The Lynx committed six turnovers in the first eight minutes of the second half, and the Mystics narrowed Minnesota's lead to two on a 15-footer from Coco Miller with 12:03 left. But Jackson missed a breakaway layup with just under 8:30 left that would have cut the lead to three. Lynx guard Amber Jacobs grabbed Jackson twice on the play, including a tug on the guard's shirt while she was going up for the shot. But no foul was called, and Minnesota's Tasha Butts ended the sequence with a three-pointer that stretched the lead to eight.
"I hate to talk about the referees, but each one of them said they missed it. There's three people out on the floor. How can you miss that?" Adams said. "That's a crucial part of the game. I think they should be fined instead of me."
© 2004 The Washington Post Company