The Washington Times - July 18, 2011, 10:26AM

Down by as many as 24 points in the first half, the Washington Mystics rallied back to defeat the L.A. Sparks on the road, 89-85. The win snapped the Mystics five-game losing streak, and improved the team’s record to 3-10.

The comeback victory put the Mystics in the record books, as they pulled off the largest second-half comeback in WNBA history, scoring 29 points in the fourth quarter to force the game into overtime.

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“We’ve been fighting all season and we’ve lost a lot of close games. This was our time so we finally closed out a game,” said Mystics coach Trudi Lacey.

“That’s why you play two halves. We didn’t come out with the defensive focus that we have played with the previous three games.”

“We were making a lot of mental errors defensively which was giving them a lot of open 3’s and drives to the basket, so you know at halftime we just talked about our one on one defense and not giving up 3’s and just simplified our offense and things started to go our way,” Lacey said.

On the history-making comeback, Lacey expressed pride in her team.

“They have big hearts and have played through injuries, played through disappointment, played through a lot of things and have tremendous character and refused to give up,” Lacey said.

Matee Ajavon led the way with 29 points and Crystal Langhorne added 24 points and 14 rebounds. Marissa Coleman added 10 points and nine rebounds.

The Sparks were led by Kristi Toliver, who scored 21. The Sparks played without all-star Candace Parker, who sat out with a torn right lateral meniscus. 

“I think the whole time we were confident. Our coaches were confident in us and we had faith as well,” Ajavon said.

“We just wanted to be aggressive. Langhorne and Nicky [Anosike] did a great job down low and our guards were able to get to the middle and just stay aggressive. Even though at the time it wasn’t really about the score, we just wanted to take one possession at a time,” Ajavon said.

With the long west coast road trip behind them, the Mystics return to the Verizon Center for a Wednesday contest against the Atlanta Dream. Tip off is 11:30am.