- The Washington Times - Sunday, September 19, 2004

THE WASHINGTON TIMES

The Washington Mystics, thought to be out of the playoff hunt a few weeks ago, can capture the top seed in the Eastern Conference playoffs with a victory today over the New York Liberty and a loss by the Connecticut Sun.

The Mystics clinched a WNBA playoff spot late Friday night with a 74-67 victory over the Phoenix Mercury. Now the Mystics have a shot at the top seed, or at least the second seed with a win today in New York.

“We are really working as a team,” said Alana Beard, whose 23 points and nine rebounds led the Mystics Friday night. “In the last two weeks, we have really come together and stepped up our games.”

The Mystics (17-16) have won five in a row and seven of 10 without All-Star Chamique Holdsclaw, who ended her season Sept.8 because of what the team called an undisclosed medical problem.

The Mystics finish the regular season today, while Connecticut (17-16) plays host to last-place Indiana (15-18). A Mystics victory combined with a Connecticut loss would give the Mystics the Eastern Conference’s top seed.

“It’s a dream come true,” Beard said Friday night in Phoenix.

Mystics center Chasity Melvin added 15 points and 11 rebounds Friday night, her first double-double of the season.

“We were destined to win,” coach Michael Adams said. “Our players just feel it. … Our players dedicated themselves and stepped up since Chamique Holdsclaw [left].”

The last spot in the Eastern Conference playoffs will go to the winner of the Charlotte at Detroit game today. Both teams have a 16-17 record. The Liberty (17-16) have clinched a playoff berth and could also have the conference’s top record with a victory and a Sun loss.

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