Monarchs 62, Mystics 57

When they trailed by 18 in the first half, the Washington Mystics appeared on their way to one of their worst losses of the season. They couldn't score and they couldn't stop the Sacramento Monarchs.

Washington eventually figured out a way to do both, but its rally came up short. Despite tying the score with more than three minutes remaining, the Mystics lost, 62-57, yesterday before 11,081 at MCI Center. It was their lowest scoring output of the season.

The loss snapped Washington's three-game winning streak and once again dropped the Mystics (6-7) below .500. Sacramento (9-3) retained its lead in the Western Conference.

"Everything has to go right for you to come back from a deficit like that and it almost did," Washington Coach Richie Adubato said.

Chasity Melvin's jump shot with 3 minutes 44 seconds remaining capped a 13-3 run by the Mystics and tied the score at 52. But Washington, which never led, failed to take the lead. DeMya Walker, who led all scorers with 24 points, made a layup 36 seconds later to put Sacramento back in front. After Melvin's putback tied the score again, Yolanda Griffith answered with another layup.

Just as it looked like it was going to come down to which team made the last basket, Ticha Penicheiro sank her only field goal of the second half -- a three-pointer with one minute remaining -- to give Sacramento a 59-54 lead. Washington pulled to within two on Alana Beard's three-point play with 46 seconds remaining, but that was as close as it would come.

"In the first half, we allowed them to do whatever they wanted," said Beard, who finished with 15 points and was one of only two Mystics to score in double figures. "They were scoring like crazy. In the second half, we came out and played with more heart and executed our plays better.

The Mystics , whose porous defense led to their double-digit deficit in the first half, stifled Sacramento in the second half. Walker and Griffith were the only two players to score for the Monarchs in the second half until Penicheiro made her shot. Sacramento missed 17 of its first 22 shots in the second half and managed to score only 12 points the first 171/2 minutes after halftime.

The Mystics' tenacious second-half defense couldn't make up for a poor first-half performance.

"Any time you fall behind, it does take a lot of energy to get back into it," Coco Miller said. "We did a good job in the second half. We came out with a lot more intensity, but it did take a lot of energy."

Nothing went right for the Mystics early. Against the stingiest defense in the WNBA, Washington turned the ball over on four of its first six possessions, which led to six points for Sacramento and a 9-3 lead. Beard, who scored only two points on 1-of-5 shooting against Detroit on Friday, seemed to carry over her poor performance into this game. Beard picked up two early fouls, turned the ball over twice and missed her only shot attempt before taking a seat five minutes into the game.

Washington missed seven of its first 10 shots and didn't reach double figures until 11:50 remained in the half.

* SHOCK 79, SPARKS 73: Detroit fell behind by 25 points in the first 13 minutes before putting together the biggest rally in WNBA history to beat visiting Los Angeles.

Deanna Nolan had 22 points and Cheryl Ford added 15 points and 15 rebounds as the Shock broke its own league record, set June 9, 2004, when it came back from 23 down to win at Indiana.

* LYNX 73, STORM 70: Katie Smith scored 15 0f Minnesota's final 20 points en route to a game-high 22 as the Lynx won their fourth straight at home and defeated the defending WNBA champions for the second time this season.

Washington's DeLisha Milton-Jones (3) fends off Sacramento's Ticha Penicheiro for a rebound in the first half. Washington's 57 points was its lowest total of the season.