- The Washington Times - Saturday, August 2, 2003

UNCASVILLE, Conn. — The crowd was loud and the music pumping as the Washington Mystics slowly walked to their bench with a little more than seven minutes left in the first half. Washington trailed the Connecticut Sun by nine points and had missed 17 of its first 20 attempts from the floor.

Mystics coach Marianne Stanley pleaded with her team to relax. If the shots wouldn’t fall, she said, focus on rebounding and defensive stops.

“We never let the frustration boil over and sabotage our own game,” Stanley said afterward. “We were relentless and kept going after it. We never unraveled.”

Even in the final seconds. Asjha Jones came off the bench to score 14 points, two on a wide-open shot with 10 seconds remaining, to help lift the Mystics to a 48-45 win over the Sun before 6,182 at Mohegan Sun Arena.

Chamique Holdsclaw shot just 1-for-10 from the floor for seven points but ripped down 11 rebounds. Jones added a career-high 12 rebounds as Washington’s bench outscored the Sun’s 19-0.

The win snapped a five-game losing streak for Washington (6-19), which had dropped its two previous contests to the Sun (13-12).

“I think the turning point mentally for us was when we were down by 11 points,” Stanley said. “We could have folded up the tent and got buried. But we didn’t let that happen.”

Connecticut led 20-9 with 7:15 left in the half before the Mystics outscored the Sun 11-4 to trail only by three at halftime. Jones sank three straight field goals to close out the half for Washington.

Washington opened the second half with a 12-5 run highlighted by 3-point shots from Annie Burgess and Stacey Dales-Schuman.

The Sun tied the game at 38-38 with 8:30 left, but Jones responded with a tough shot over a Sun defender. Dales-Schuman faked out two defenders in the lane and scored to push the lead to four, and Jones made it 44-38 by pulling down a rebound and putting it back.

“She is playing with more confidence,” Stanley said of Jones, who has averaged 17 points over the past three games. “She isn’t bashful, and she asserts herself.”

Connecticut attempted to rally. With one second left on the shot clock, Katie Douglas scored to cut the lead to 46-45 with 1:15 remaining. The Sun got the ball back with 42 seconds left after forcing a Mystics shot clock violation. But Washington got the ball back, in turn, with 12 seconds left after a Sun shot clock violation.

On the inbounds play, Murriel Page found Jones wide open in the low post. Sun defender Nykesha Sales fell down, and Jones had an easy basket for a 48-45 lead.

Connecticut had one last chance but didn’t come close to getting a shot near the basket.

“We put the clamps down on them defensively,” Stanley said.

Shannon Johnson had 18 points to lead the Sun, who shot only 23.8 percent from the field (15 of 63) and had the second lowest scoring total in team history. Sales had five points on 2-for-16 shooting.

It was the lowest-scoring game of the season for Washington, which shot 30 percent (19 for 62).

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