Mystics 65, Sting 50

The Mystics opened the season on May 21 with an impressive victory at Charlotte. Last night, about six weeks later, Washington beat the struggling Sting again, 65-50, to finally climb back over .500.

The Mystics (8-7) have 19 games remaining on their schedule but Coach Richie Adubato has his team playing with a sense of urgency, the kind of urgency that makes a home loss to the WNBA's worst team unacceptable.

"This would have been a horrible momentum stopper," Adubato said. "Horrible. We talked about that before the game. They are struggling but they have a lot of pride and they aren't just going to lie down for anyone."

And yet the Sting (2-11) caused the Mystics problems for the second time in three nights. Washington needed overtime to pull out a 66-61 win at Charlotte on Tuesday and trailed the Sting most of the first half last night before pulling away late.

In an ugly game that featured 46 fouls, 36 turnovers and sloppy play by both teams, the Mystics survived because they put together a 14-5 run late in the second half. Point guard Temeka Johnson and shooting guard Alana Beard each scored 14 points and forward DeLisha Milton-Jones added 11 to lead the Mystics. With Chasity Melvin in foul trouble, Nakia Sanford came off the bench and scored eight points.

Charlotte, which ranks last in the WNBA in scoring, stayed in the game thanks to its front court of Tangela Smith and Tammy Sutton-Brown, who combined to score 36 of the team's 50 points. After making only 8 of 27 shots, including one of eight three-pointers in the first half, the Mystics shot 45.3 percent during the second half and outscored the Sting, 45-23.

"We were just ice cold in the first half," said Beard, who made 4 of 15 shots and had seven rebounds, four assists and four steals. "We were doing a good job executing our sets but we just weren't making the shots. In the second half, we were able to get going a little bit and create some momentum."

The victory makes the Mystics 3-0 against the Sting this season -- the teams meet one more time August 2 at MCI Center -- and makes part-owner Sheila Johnson 2-0 against former husband Bob Johnson, who owns the Sting and the NBA's Charlotte Bobcats.

Sheila Johnson purchased a stake in the Mystics on May 24 and has been a visible and vocal presence at home games. For Tuesday night's game at Charlotte, Johnson flew in on a private jet and was on hand to see the Mystics pull out a thrilling victory.

Last night, Johnson had plenty of support as the crowd of 10,401 was on its feet as the Mystics pulled away. When Milton-Jones converted a breakaway layup to give the Mystics a 56-45 lead with 3 minutes 26 seconds remaining, Johnson was jumping inside her luxury box, cheering as if the Mystics had just won the WNBA championship. Following the game, she visited the Mystics' locker room to share hugs with Adubato, assistant coaches Marynell Meadors and Jeff House and General Manager Linda Hargrove.

"That's great," Beard said, noting Johnson's happiness over the win. "Bob better get to work and get some stuff going because she's coming in with a bang."

The Sting's Sheri Sam, top, loses the rebound to the Mystics' Alana Beard, one of seven on the night for Washington's second-year guard.