By Katie Carrera
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, August 10, 2010; 11:24 PM
So key was Tuesday night's contest at Verizon Center that Washington Mystics managing partner Sheila Johnson walked around the building with her fingers crossed before tip-off. Win this game against the Connecticut Sun and Washington's path to the postseason would be a little easier, lose and increase the importance of each remaining contest.
Facing that reality, along with the Sun team that defeated the Mystics 48 hours earlier and was anxious to threaten their position in the Eastern Conference standings, Washington harnessed its killer instinct and used a 33-point third quarter to secure an 84-74 win that snapped a two-game losing streak.
"That's the thing that's been lacking is our focus," said Crystal Langhorne, who led all scorers with 23 points, her highest output since July 27 and added 10 rebounds. "We have a great team but some games like the last game we played [Connecticut] they beat us to a lot of loose balls and a lot of rebounds. That's happened a few times before and we didn't want that to happen today. We fought for the little things."
Coming out of a tight first half with a 37-34 lead, the Mystics shifted into a new and ruthless gear, that they've often struggled to find, at the start of the third quarter.
Washington held Connecticut scoreless for the first 3 minutes and 23 seconds of the frame as part of a 21-6 run that put the Mystics up by 18 through less than six minutes of play. But it wasn't just Langhorne.
Fellow starters Monique Currie (17 points) and Chasity Melvin (10) added six points each as Washington went on its furious run. When they came out, rookie Jacinta Monroe scored six of her eight points late in the quarter that continued to grow the lead up to 23 points (at 70-47). The Mystics shot a blistering 63 percent (10 for 16) in the third quarter.
"The past two times we played them we were up or tied at halftime and they came out in that third quarter. They came out strong, they came out attacking," said point guard Lindsey Harding, who tallied six assists. "We were sitting here in the locker room [at halftime] like this is our half. We've got to come out strong, make a statement and that's what we did."
With four players in double figures and all but one who saw time on the floor recording at least two points, Washington didn't experience the lulls that plagued their scoring over the past two weeks. Instead the Mystics rediscovered the multidimensional nature of their offense - they tallied 19 assists.
"For us to win everybody has to be involved," Currie said. "When we're moving the ball around and people are getting open shots we end up having double-digit assists and shooting almost 50 percent from the field. It's good for us to have everybody involved."
lSKY 91, MERCURY 82: Sylvia Fowles had 24 points and 14 rebounds and Chicago (13-17) rallied to beat visiting Phoenix (14-15).
LYNX 73, SILVER STARS 66: Seimone Augustus scored 20 points and visiting Minnesota (11-17) beat San Antonio (11-18) to improve its playoff positioning.
STORM 80, DREAM 70: Lauren Jackson scored six points of her 14 points in a decisive 8-0 run and Seattle (25-4) clinched the top overall seed in the playoffs by beating host Atlanta (18-12).
-From news services