Washington's Alana Beard knew the Mystics needed a fast start to win at Houston.
So she took the initiative and the Mystics followed, shooting 60 percent as a team and making five three-pointers in the first half on the way to a 70-65 victory over the Comets on Thursday.
"They were just one game out of first in the West and we knew they were going to come on strong in the second half," said Beard, who led Washington with 16 points, 8 rebounds and 7 assists.
The Mystics took a 43-36 lead at halftime and held on when the Comets got within three points with just under 10 seconds left on a three-pointer by Roneeka Hodges.
Mystics rookie Temeka Johnson made a pair of free throws in the final seconds.
DeLisha Milton-Jones scored 15 points, Johnson had 11 and Chasity Melvin added 10 points for the Mystics (11-10), who capped a five-game road trip with two straight wins and three overall.
Michelle Snow scored a career-high 23 points to lead Houston (12-8), which lost for just the third time in 13 meetings with Washington. Snow had 16 second-half points for the Comets, who entered 7-0 at home against the Mystics.
"We weren't aggressive in the first half," Snow said. "We went deep into our bench in the first half and played a lot of players. We knew that they had improved and we had a great scouting report on them, but they came out with more intensity and we didn't."
Tina Thompson, playing for the first time this season after giving birth earlier this year, scored four points on 2-for-8 shooting. She added five rebounds in 21 minutes of play.
"It was good to get back on the court," Thompson said. "I didn't really feel the nerves. We've been playing really good and I didn't want to mess up the flow. I just want to mesh with the team."
Laurie Koehn made consecutive three-pointers for a 35-27 lead with 4 minutes 39 seconds left to help key the Mystics' big first half.
"That is the best we've executed on offense all season," Mystics Coach Richie Adubato said of the first half. "We were hot and putting down all of our shots. I wasn't sure where we'd be with this being the last game of a long trip, but we held on."
* FEVER 66, SILVER STARS 53: Jurgita Streimikyte scored 14 points, and Indiana recovered from its worst loss of the season with its largest victory margin, beating San Antonio in Indianapolis.
The Fever (12-7) led by as many as 12 points on the way to a 31-24 halftime lead.
San Antonio (5-16) cut the lead to 33-31, but the Fever responded with a 15-4 run to gain control.
* LIBERTY 80, MERCURY 70: Becky Hammon had 21 points and five assists, Elena Baranova had 16 points and seven rebounds and New York won in Phoenix, snapping the Mercury's four-game winning streak.
Ann Wauters scored all 12 of her points in the first half for New York (9-9), which had lost two straight.
Penny Taylor scored 20 points, Anna DeForge had 17 and Diana Taurasi added 16 for Phoenix (7-12).