Mystics Overturn Turnover Trouble in Win

Alana Beard, driving past Atlanta's Jennifer Lacy, didn't score in the Mystics' sub-par first half but had 18 points. (Richard A. Lipski - The Washington Post)
Alana Beard, driving past Atlanta's Jennifer Lacy, didn't score in the Mystics' sub-par first half but had 18 points. (Richard A. Lipski - The Washington Post) (By Richard A. Lipski -- The Washington Post)
  Enlarge Photo     Buy Photo
By Kathy Orton
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, June 21, 2008

The Washington Mystics have the second-best field goal percentage in the WNBA. They lead the league in three-point field goal percentage. And yet, the Mystics are last in the WNBA in scoring, averaging a measly 68.4 points per game. No other team in the league is scoring less than 71 points.

What accounts for such a discrepancy? Turnovers. Washington's 18.8 giveaways per game rank third-worst in the WNBA.

Mystics Coach Tree Rollins is fully aware of his team's sloppiness. Before last night's game against the Atlanta Dream at Verizon Center, he wrote on the dry-erase board in the Washington locker room: "Take Care of the Rock!"

The Mystics ignored his plea, and their sloppiness nearly cost them. Washington overcame 15 first-half turnovers to defeat the Dream, 72-61, recording its first three-game winning streak since winning four in a row in August of last season.

Alana Beard scored all of her 18 points in the second half to lead Washington (5-7) to its largest margin of victory this season. Monique Currie added 17 points and eight rebounds.

The expansion Dream's struggles continued. Atlanta, winless in its first 12 games, can match the 2003 Detroit Shock for the worst start in WNBA history with a loss in its next game.

Turnovers reduce the number of opportunities a team has to score, which is why Washington reached new lows in offensive futility in the first half. The Mystics had nearly as many turnovers at halftime as they average in a game. Washington's 22 first-half points tied the lowest of the season and the Mystics' 10 points in the second quarter were the second-lowest scoring output for the season. Washington didn't shoot well either, making just 30.3 percent of its shots in the first half.

"Turnovers, offensive fouls, everything, the lid was on the bucket," Beard said. "Both teams were in a funk. It was ugly. It was the ugliest type of basketball I've ever seen in my life."

Beard, who is fourth in the league in scoring (19.9 ppg), went scoreless in the first half after playing just six minutes because of foul trouble. The Mystics all-star picked up her third foul with 9 minutes 43 seconds left in the second quarter and did not play again in the half.

At halftime, the Mystics received what Rollins termed "some encouraging words from the head coach."

"Two games in a row now we've had to have some heated conversations at halftime," Rollins said. "I don't know who those people were in those uniforms the first half, but we came in and had some interviews at halftime, tried to find out who was who, then the Mystics showed up the second half."

Beard made her first basket of the game 14 seconds into the second half. Her layup began a 10-2 run that built a 32-25 lead.

CONTINUED     1        >

© 2008 The Washington Post Company