Only the Clocks Slow Down Washington

By Jon Gallo
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, June 4, 2006

The only time the Washington Mystics couldn't score yesterday against the Detroit Shock was during a nearly half-hour delay in the third quarter when the shot and game clocks malfunctioned.

The Mystics did pretty much everything they wanted in a 92-68 victory in front of a crowd of 5,897 at Verizon Center to improve to 3-1 for the first time since 2002.

"This was the first time we really clicked all season," said guard Alana Beard, who posted 18 points and seven rebounds. "Honestly, I'd say that we expected to win the game, but we never expected it to be a blowout."

Forward DeLisha Milton-Jones scored a game-high 21 points to highlight an afternoon in which each starter scored at least 11 points as the Mystics matched their best four-game start in franchise history. The Mystics' previous victories were over New York and Minnesota, which have won a combined three games, but yesterday's came against one of the league's most talented teams. The Shock (3-2), which had won its past three games, start four players who competed in last season's All-Star game.

But the Shock were without another one of its all-stars -- power forward Cheryl Ford, who missed the game after spraining her left ankle against New York on Thursday.

The game also took another unexpected twist with 8:05 left in the third quarter, when the shot and game clocks above each basket, as well as the scoreboard above the court, ceased working. The game resumed 28 minutes later after a temporary 24-second shot clock was placed behind each base line, and the game clock was kept with a stopwatch at the scorer's table. The time was announced periodically over the public address system until the scoreboard began working again midway through the fourth quarter.

"That was the worst thing that could happen because we were playing so well," Beard said. "We just had to get our mental focus back."

Said Detroit Coach Bill Laimbeer: "I thought they should have called it: you don't want to get anybody hurt at that point. Everybody's getting cold, and to restart the thing after a 15- to 20-minute delay would have been difficult."

However, WNBA officials told the referees to continue the game, and the break allowed Detroit to regroup. The Shock closed the quarter on a 23-15 spurt to pull to within 68-57 but could get no closer.

The Mystics scored the first 16 points of the fourth quarter to take an 84-57 lead following a layup by Nikki Blue with 4:25 left in the game.

"If we play like that, we're going to win a lot of games," said forward Crystal Robinson, who scored 13 points. "We have a lot of veterans on the team with championship rings, so we have high expectations."

Detroit had pounded opponents with the trio of 6-foot-5 center Ruth Riley, 6-foot-2 forward Swin Cash and Ford, who have combined to average 33 points and 21 rebounds per game. But Ford's absence threw the Shock into disarray, as it made just 2 of 19 shots (10.5 percent) in the first quarter, enabling the Mystics to take a 22-12 lead.

Detroit was just as bad defensively, which was surprising considering it entered the day allowing the second-fewest points per game in league. The Mystics extended their lead in the second quarter by ending the period on 12-4 run to take a 44-29 lead at intermission.

Note: Due to the in-game delay, the Mystics will give fans with a ticket to yesterday's game a free $10 ticket to the June 13 game against Charlotte if they bring their ticket stub to the Verizon Center box office Monday.

· LIBERTY 89, SPARKS 79: Becky Hammon scored 24 points, and rookie Sherill Baker had 15 to lead New York to the overtime win in its home opener.

Cathrine Kraayeveld hit a three-pointer for the Liberty with 4.6 seconds left in regulation to tie the score at 68.

· SUN 89, STING 71: : In Uncasville, Conn., Margo Dydek scored 17 points to lead six players in double figures as the Sun pulled away from the Sting in the second half.

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