Washington Mystics run over Tulsa Shock in front of President Obama

By Katie Carrera
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, August 2, 2010; D02

By the end of the first quarter Sunday it was clear that the Washington Mystics weren't about to waste their chance to make an example out of the Tulsa Shock, the worst team in the WNBA -- especially not with a few special guests in attendance.

In front of a crowd of 9,008 at Verizon Center that included President Obama and his youngest daughter, Sasha, the Mystics defeated the Shock, 87-62. It was their largest margin of victory this season.

"If you've got the president of the United States here, that's the ultimate home-court advantage for us," said Marissa Coleman, who recorded 14 points and 10 rebounds for the first double-double of her WNBA career. "When you put it all in perspective not too many professional athletes get to meet the president, let alone play in front of them, so for us to be one of the select few is big for women's basketball."

President Obama saw the Mystics (15-10) win their second straight to maintain their hold on third in the Eastern Conference standings, two games behind the first-place Atlanta Dream (18-9) and maintaining a single-game lead on fourth-place New York (14-11).

Although Tulsa (4-22) owns the worst record in the league, the Mystics were careful not to underestimate the Shock, especially with Washington just coming off a three-game losing streak that they snapped on Friday with a 77-73 win over Indiana (16-9).

"We didn't want to come in here and take them lightly but we wanted to come in and continue on a roll," point guard Lindsey Harding said. The losing streak is "over in my mind. It has to be. If we go on another losing streak like that we could be out [of the playoffs]. Each game is going to feed something to us and count so hopefully we're going in the right direction."

Heading into a key week of three road games against Eastern Conference foes Atlanta, New York and Connecticut, the Mystics got just the confidence boost they needed against Tulsa, which committed 18 turnovers and shot just 33.8 percent. Washington had six players reach double figures -- Monique Currie (15), Katie Smith (15), Coleman (14), Crystal Langhorne (11), Chasity Melvin (10) and Harding (10) -- as the team committed just 11 turnovers and shot 41.4 percent.

The game also gave Coach Julie Plank a chance to rest some of her usual workhorses -- Currie (31 minutes) was the only starter to play more than 26 minutes -- as the Mystics' roster of only nine active players received a much-needed break overall.

"It was a statement win as big as we beat them by, so definitely it's going to give us a lot of momentum," Coleman said. "I think this [upcoming road trip is] going to give us the opportunity to show what we're made of and what kind of character, what kind of fight that we have."

LYNX 72, STORM 71: Seimone Augustus scored 24 points as Minnesota snapped Seattle's 13-game winning streak.

Augustus scored six quick points early in the fourth quarter to extend Minnesota's dwindling lead and became the second-fastest player in WNBA history to reach 2,500 career points, behind only Cynthia Cooper.

Sue Bird scored 16 points and Tanisha Wright added 15 for Seattle (22-3), which saw it's franchise-best winning streak end.

MERCURY 97, SKY 96: Diana Taurasi scored 35 points, including two free throws with 3.7 seconds left, to help Phoenix secure the win over Chicago.

Sylvia Fowles had 12 of her career-high 35 points in the fourth quarter to lead the Sky.

LIBERTY 71, SUN 67: Cappie Pondexter scored 24 points, including the 3,000th of her career, to lead New York to a victory against Connecticut.

Pondexter reached the milestone in 154 games, the second fewest in WNBA history. She also propelled the Liberty to a win in a game that came down to the final minute. She hit three free throws in the final minute to give the Liberty a 70-67 lead.

DREAM 90, FEVER 74: Iziane Castro Marques had 22 points, Angel McCoughtry scored 20 and Atlanta took over first place in the Eastern Conference with a victory over Indiana.

It was the fourth victory in a row for the Dream, which improved to 10-2 at home.

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