A few minutes after the Houston Comets put the finishing touches on Tuesday afternoon's 83-65 win over the Washington Mystics at MCI Center, a disappointed fan, sitting alone not far from the Mystics' bench, got up from her seat and headed for the exit.
"I took off work for this?" she asked.
Tuesday's loss in front of a season-high crowd of 16,654 frustrated the Mystics (11-11) and their fans and took some of the luster off a successful Western Conference road trip that included wins over Seattle, Los Angeles and Houston.
It also left the Mystics determined to bounce back tonight when they host the San Antonio Silver Stars (6-17).
"We have to win these games at home," Mystics Coach Richie Adubato said. "This is a very important homestand. We need to take the challenge head on. Five of our next six games are at home, and we have already dropped this one. Then we finish with five of seven on the road. It is essential that we get these games at home and that starts with San Antonio."
It would help the Mystics if San Antonio missed a few shots, something Houston didn't do. The Comets, who have been around since the WNBA's inception in 1997, established a franchise record by hitting 65.4 percent of their shots against the Mystics, who have allowed opponents to shoot 44.6 percent on the season.
Adubato said he was eager to view some tape after the game but said he didn't feel that his team played especially poor defense. With the exception of back-to-back breakdowns that led to wide open three-point attempts by Sheryl Swoopes early in the second half, the Mystics rotated well in the half court and closed out shooters.
The Comets simply made tough shots while the Mystics were unable to answer with enough offense of their own. Rookie point guard Temeka Johnson attempted only three shots and was held scoreless for the first time all season; the Mystics couldn't muster any stops during the second half to generate fast breaks; and Washington failed to pull down a single offensive rebound during the second half.
San Antonio snapped a five-game losing streak Tuesday with a 78-71 home win over Minnesota, scoring more than 70 points for the first time since an 81-69 win over Seattle on June 30. Still, the Silver Stars beat the Mystics, 71-62, when the teams met in San Antonio on June 7. The Mystics can hardly afford a repeat of that performance tonight.
With 12 games remaining, the Mystics are in fourth place in the Eastern Conference standings. That would be good enough to put them in the playoffs if the season ended today.