The Washington Mystics committed 25 turnovers tonight and had no answer for Yolanda Griffith, who recorded 19 points, nine rebounds and a franchise-record eight steals to lead the Sacramento Monarchs to a 70-54 victory before 7,909 at ARCO Arena.
Twenty of the Mystics' turnovers came in the second half, but it was Griffith who stymied Washington throughout the game. Her eight steals fell one short of the Mystics' total.
"She's the best defensive post player in the whole WNBA," Mystics forward Chamique Holdsclaw said. "I've played with her before and had several opportunities to watch her play, so I know she has the capability to get things started on the defensive end."
Nikki McCray led the Mystics with 16 points. Holdsclaw had 12 and Shalonda Enis 10. Those were the only bright spots for the Mystics on a bad night.
Washington shot 35.8 percent (19 of 53) and made 2 of 10 attempts from three-point range. Sacramento outscored Washington 44-26 in the key and 17-5 in second-chance points.
The Monarchs also outrebounded Washington 39-39 in ending a two-game losing streak. The Mystics have lost seven of eight.
Reserve Tangela Smith scored 14 points for the Monarchs and veteran Ruthie Bolton-Holifield had 10.
The Mystics trailed by only 31-29 at halftime despite losing a nine-point lead to start the game.
Before the home crowd could settle in its seats, the Mystics scored the first nine points en route to an 11-2 lead. Washington's defense was strong during the stretch as it held Griffith and guard Kedra Holland-Corn scoreless. In addition, the Mystics stymied the Monarchs' fast break.
But Sacramento then went on a 20-4 run. After Griffith and Smith converted on back-to-back three-point plays, the Monarchs led 25-17 with 6 minutes 12 seconds to play in the first half.
Not only did the Monarchs score in bunches, the Mystics helped Sacramento's cause in committing nine turnovers. Sacramento did most of its damage with starters Griffith, forward Latasha Byears and Bolton-Holifield on the bench. The Mystics continued to play sloppily in the second half and the Monarchs made them pay. Sacramento opened with an 11-4 run and took control.
"We turned the ball over in litters and also started missing some shots," Mystics Coach Nancy Darsch said. "They weren't bad shots -- they just wouldn't go in. Sacramento did a nice job getting into transition, and getting offensive boards, primarily in the first and second half."
COMETS 71, ROCKERS 65: Sheryl Swoopes scored a game-high 28 points to help Houston come back from a 13-point deficit and win in Cleveland.
LIBERTY 73, MIRACLE 65: In Orlando, Crystal Robinson hit a three-pointer and Kym Hampton made four free throws late in overtime for New York, which ended a three-game losing streak.
Hampton and Sophia Witherspoon each scored 21 points for New York.
MERCURY 79, LYNX 46: Jennifer Gillom scored 22 points for host Phoenix, and Minnesota tied the WNBA's season-low point total.