The Washington Post

Washington Mystics hold off Chinese national team in scrimmage

Mystics guard Alana Beard saw her first game action since missing last season because of injury. (Susan Walsh/ASSOCIATED PRESS)

Jasmine Thomas admitted she had some butterflies fluttering around in her stomach before the Washington Mystics’ scrimmage against the Chinese women’s national team on Saturday afternoon.

Although the atmosphere on the Verizon Center practice court wasn’t as intense as a game, Thomas nonetheless was eager to impress her teammates and coaches. The 5-foot-9 rookie guard from Duke was one of the first substitutes for the Mystics and made her presence known almost immediately, getting a deflection that led to a steal.

Although no official statistics were kept, Thomas seemed to play the most minutes of the rookies. She finished with three points and had a spectacular, behind-the-back pass for an assist on Alana Beard’s layup in the Mystics’ 72-67 victory.

The Mystics were the second stop on China’s two-week U.S. tour. The Chinese lost to the Connecticut Sun, 101-63, on Thursday.

“I think just with how practice has been going and how much I’ve been learning, I felt pretty confident that everyone would help me be able to adjust,” Thomas said. “I mean, I had people talking to me all the time, so it’s not like I had to be too nervous.”

Thomas, a three-time All-Met and 2007 All-Met Player of the Year from Oakton High, was acquired last month in a trade that sent Katie Smith to Seattle.

“I thought Jasmine’s intensity on defense was good,” Mystics Coach Trudi Lacey said. “As she gets more game experience, her decision-making will get better.”

Thomas was one of three point guards Lacey used in the game. Kelly Miller, who was acquired last month in the trade of Lindsey Harding to Atlanta, started. Ashley Houts also played several minutes.

Defense is a big emphasis for Lacey, and the Mystics fell short of her expectations. At one point in the second quarter, Lacey said to the players: “I’m calling a timeout because I’m [upset] about the defense. I want two stops in a row. Am I clear?”

That was before the Mystics nearly squandered a 60-43 third-quarter lead in the fourth quarter, allowing the Chinese team to cut their lead to 67-64 with less than a minute left.

“I felt like when we didn’t score it affected our defense. That can’t really happen,” Lacey said.

Beard started along with Crystal Langhorne, Nicky Anosike, Marissa Coleman and Miller. She scored the Mystics’ first two points off free throws but didn’t make her first basket until 7 minutes 34 seconds remained in the second quarter. She finished with six points.

“It felt good to get the first one out of the way,” said Beard, who missed all of last season with an ankle injury.

Langhorne, one of the few holdovers from last season, led the Mystics with 16 points.

Note: Center Chasity Melvin was the only player who did not play in the scrimmage. Lacey said the 35-year-old center was resting her knees.

Kathy Orton is a reporter and Web editor for the Real Estate section. She covers the Washington metropolitan area housing market.



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