The Washington Post

Washington Mystics fall to Los Angeles Sparks’ big run in WNBA play

An afternoon that began with such promise for the Washington Mystics unraveled quickly against the shorthanded Los Angeles Sparks, who used a decisive run over the third and fourth quarters on the way to a 75-57 victory Sunday before 7,092 at Verizon Center.

The 16-0 flurry began with a jumper by former Mystics and University of Maryland guard-forward Marissa Coleman. By the time forward Nneka Ogwumike made a layup with 8 minutes 44 seconds left in regulation, Los Angeles had a 64-39 lead that never came close to dwindling below double figures the rest of the way.

Forward Crystal Langhorne led Washington with a game-high 23 points to go with seven rebounds and two assists. She made 10 of 13 field goals and was the only Mystics starter to shoot at least 50 percent.

No other player reached double-figures for the Mystics, who shot 34 percent and missed 11 of 13 three-point shots. Washington also committed 17 turnovers, was outrebounded 43-38 and shot 56 percent from the foul line.

The Mystics (9-12), losers of three in a row and five of six, hold only a half-game lead over New York for the fourth and final Eastern Conference playoff berth.

“I’m concerned that we are falling back into some old habits, and I think it’s throughout the team,” said Mike Thibault, the Mystics’ first-year coach. “Missing box-outs that we’ve worked time and time again on. I thought when we played against our male practice squad we've actually played harder and more physical than we have in a game like this.”

The Sparks had five players score in double-figures, with Ogwumike tallying a team-high 22 points on 10-for-18 shooting. The second-year player from Stanford added 10 rebounds and three steals.

Center Jantel Lavender had 13 points for Los Angeles (13-7), and point guard Lindsey Harding chipped in with 11 points and a game-high 14 assists, two short of matching the WNBA single-game record. Coleman, who played with Langhorne on the Terrapins’ 2006 NCAA title team and with the Mystics, added 11 points to help Los Angeles end a two-game losing streak without standout Candace Parker.

The MVP of this season’s All-Star Game missed her second straight game with a wrist injury, and her status for the rest of the team’s five-game road trip remains uncertain.

“Yeah, today was pretty bad,” Langhorne said. “When our offensive isn’t going, we’ve got to get stops on defense. We’re not doing that right now, and even without Candace Parker they’re a great team. We just have to play a lot better. We have to play more together.”

After the Mystics scored nine of the game’s first 11 points, the Sparks stormed back on the strength of Coleman. She sank four baskets, including a three-pointer, bridging the first and second quarters, and Los Angeles moved ahead, 23-11.

The Mystics countered with eight consecutive points and drew to 27-25 late in the first half. Washington stayed within striking distance for the majority of the third quarter, but with Washington trailing 48-39, the Sparks began their burst that all but decided the outcome.

“When I took this job, I knew it wasn’t going to be an easy, quick fix, but I thought we had made progress for the last month,” Thibault said. “I think the last week we’ve regressed a little bit.”

SILVER STARS 69, SHOCK 65: Danielle Robinson scored 19 points, Jia Perkins had 18 and San Antonio outlasted Tulsa for its third straight home victory.

Danielle Adams added 14 points for the Silver Stars. Glory Johnson scored 19 points for the Shock, which has lost two of three.

LYNX 90, STORM 72: Lindsay Whalen scored 22 points, Seimone Augustus added 18 and Minnesota won its 18th straight home game.

Gene Wang is a sports reporter covering multiple beats, including Navy football, the Capitals, Wizards, Nationals, women’s basketball, auto racing, boxing and golf. He also covers Fantasy Football.



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