Washington Mystics fall in overtime to the Atlanta Dream, 86-79

By Katie Carrera
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, June 6, 2010

As Atlanta Dream forward Angel McCoughtry stood on the free throw line in overtime, sinking two more shots to put the finishing touches on another win for the Eastern Conference leaders, the faces of the Washington Mystics dropped. They knew Saturday night's game was one they let get away.

After a nearly flawless effort in the third quarter, the Mystics appeared to be in control of the game. Their lead reached double digits, they were taking care of the basketball and for the most part, they contained Atlanta's offense. But then Washington's advantage evaporated as the Dream notched 23 points in the fourth to force overtime, before earning an 86-79 win over the Mystics. In the final 15 minutes of play, Atlanta outscored Washington, 34-19.

"The major thing in this league," said 12-year veteran center Chasity Melvin, who recorded 10 points and eight rebounds, "is when you've got that kind of lead on a team, you've got to do something with it. They're a good team, they're going to come back, but if we put more pressure on them when we had the lead, they're the type of team that could get frustrated."

The loss is the Mystics' first at Verizon Center this season, while Atlanta snapped a two-game losing streak and improved to 7-2. In the contest's early going though, the Mystics (4-4) appeared ready to keep pace with a team that prefers a fast pace as much as they do.

Washington carried a 40-37 lead into halftime, but it was the Mystics' superb effort out of the break that rallied a crowd of 8,986. A leaping steal by Lindsey Harding that the point guard turned into an easy layup midway through the third quarter ignited a 13-5 run that gave the Mystics their biggest lead of the game at 10 points. Washington didn't commit a single turnover, capitalizing off five Dream miscues. The Mystics also weren't whistled for a foul.

"It's just like the Seattle game," said forward Crystal Langhorne, who tied her career high with 23 points and added eight rebounds. "Just being up thinking you have control of the game and losing it because you lost focus on the little things."

Despite all of the Mystics' confidence, things quickly went awry in the fourth. Atlanta switched to a 2-3 zone defense that flustered Washington's offense as Dream guard Iziane Castro-Marques benefited from several fast breaks to score 10 of her 19 points in the frame while McCoughtry (23 points) added eight of her own. And the Mystics committed five turnovers.

The Dream's momentum carried into overtime where they managed to convert off key offensive rebounds and turnovers once again. For the game, Atlanta outrebounded Washington, 44-38.

"We've got to be able to close games out. Right now we're all thinking about the things we did wrong," said center Nakia Sanford, who had 10 points and three rebounds. "I'm thinking about my missed box-outs. At the end of the day, we just didn't rebound well."

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