Sacramento Silences Washington

Alana Beard
Alana Beard leads Washington with 15 points, six rebounds and three assists. She also commits seven turnovers. (Kevin Wolf - AP)
By Jon Gallo
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, July 8, 2006

Three weeks ago, the Washington Mystics' locker room was filled with laughter and praise. The Mystics were enjoying life atop the Eastern Conference, confident they had finally become one of the league's premier teams.

Now, the locker room is a quiet place following games, especially after last night's 73-60 loss to Sacramento at Verizon Center dropped the Mystics to 9-10, the first time they've been under .500 all season.

"We have to start searching for answers right now," guard Alana Beard said. "We have a lot of things we need to fix."

The Mystics had numerous problems against the defending champion Monarchs (11-8), falling for the seventh time in nine games to remain in fourth place in the conference after being tied for first on June 17.

The Mystics were held scoreless for an eight-minute stretch bridging the third and fourth quarters, during which the Monarchs turned a four-point deficit into a 12-point lead they would not relinquish.

The Mystics shot 26 of 63 from the field, making just 3 of 23 three-point attempts, and committed 23 turnovers as Sacramento's suffocating defense held Washington to its lowest point total of the season.

"It was just an all-around tough game for us," said guard Coco Miller, who recorded seven points and five rebounds. "We had some stretches where we just lost our focus."

Midway through the third quarter, the Mystics appeared headed toward one of their biggest victories of the season. Washington rallied from a 14-point deficit in the second quarter to take a 50-46 lead with 2 minutes 14 seconds left in the third quarter following a jump shot by Beard.

Beard, who suffered a sprained right ankle last week and hadn't played in the last two games, wasn't expected to play until minutes before tip-off, when she proved she could run at full speed and was cleared by the team's trainer.

But Sacramento guard Kara Lawson, a former All-Met Player of the Year at West Springfield, responded with a reverse layup before making a three-pointer from the left wing to give the Monarchs a 51-50 lead with 22 seconds remaining.

"I knew we needed a spark," said Lawson, who scored 12 points. "We just needed something to get us going."

Sacramento opened the fourth quarter by scoring the first 11 points, and by the time Nakia Sanford converted a layup with 4:13 left, the Monarchs had put away the game.

CONTINUED     1        >

© 2006 The Washington Post Company