Mystics Are Roughed Up, Chewed Out
Wednesday, May 23, 2007
After Washington Mystics games, it is not uncommon for Sheila Johnson, the team's president and managing partner, to drop by her team's locker room to offer a few words of encouragement. Veteran forward DeLisha Milton-Jones said the visits usually are a pat on the back, a study in positive reinforcement.
But last night, with little to be positive about after the Mystics absorbed a 70-52 drubbing by Sacramento in front of 7,553 at Verizon Center, Johnson excoriated her team in a postgame locker room speech that seemed to resonate with the players more than even the physical pounding the Monarchs inflicted.
"That hurts," Milton-Jones said. "When you have the boss coming in here saying how disappointed she is, then you know you better get your [butt] in gear because you could be out of a job. And when they do come in here and question your effort, that's something that should be given anyway."
The Mystics gave their owner plenty to gripe about, falling to 0-2 this season in embarrassing form despite a stellar performance by franchise player Alana Beard, who played for the first time this year because of a left shoulder strain.
Beard scored a game-high 17 points on 7-of-14 shooting, but it hardly was enough to overcome her team's feeble rebounding and subsequent fourth-quarter collapse.
"Sheila is so passionate about this team, along with her supporting cast; she's doing so much to get this team on the map," Beard said. "That was a powerful speech. I had chills running through me. I was ready to play again."
Everybody in the Mystics organization, it seemed, would have loved a do-over.
Sacramento outrebounded Washington 50-22, including a franchise-record 25 offensive rebounds to the Mystics' five.
Still, Washington led by 14 at one point and the score was tied at 48 late in the third quarter. But after having already asserted their physical dominance, the Monarchs embarked on an 18-0 run that started late in the third quarter and didn't end until past the midway point of the fourth. By then, Sacramento (2-1) had blown open a close game. The Mystics managed just four points in the fourth quarter.
"We need to have a heart check," Milton-Jones said.
The Monarchs, the defending Western Conference champions, made up for a 36 percent shooting night simply by bullying the Mystics into submission.
Washington held a 34-29 halftime lead. But starting center Chasity Melvin picked up her fifth foul early in the third quarter, and Milton-Jones, a power forward, picked up her fourth soon after.