- The Washington Times - Tuesday, August 2, 2005

The Washington Mystics successfully completed their final tune-up before entering the defining stretch of their season.

The Mystics defeated the hapless and depleted Charlotte Sting 65-63 last night at MCI Center. Washington suffered a second-half scare but ultimately completed the four-game season sweep of the Sting, whose season of misadventures includes a 3-21 record, an 0-12 road mark and an ongoing franchise-record nine-game losing streak.

Washington won thanks to its inside edge and free throw shooting (17 of 23). Center Chasity Melvin led the Mystics with 17 points and seven rebounds.

Charlotte’s Tangela Smith nearly pulled off an incredible comeback by herself as she scored 19 of her game-high 25 points in the second half.

Washington (13-12) will face playoff-contending teams the rest of the way, starting Sunday when Indiana visits. The Mystics moved into third place in the Eastern Conference with the win and New York’s loss to Connecticut and are two games ahead of fifth-place Detroit, which lost to Houston.

The top four teams in each conference make the postseason. The Mystics, Liberty and Sparks are vying for the final two spots, while first-place Connecticut and second-place Indiana have all but locked up berths.

“I think it is an absolute must that you win your home games,” Mystics coach Richie Adubato said before his squad began a three-game homestand. “Detroit has the most favorable schedule. They have Charlotte three times. We have the toughest schedule. The key is we have three home [with last night] games and five of our last seven are on the road. So these three are of the utmost importance.”

Notes — Mystics president Sheila Johnson sang the National Anthem. Johnson’s club is 3-0 (4-0 overall this season) against the Sting since she became part-owner of the Mystics. Charlotte’s owner is her former husband, Bob Johnson. …

Washington’s playoff chances appeared to have been hampered when Detroit traded for five-time All-Star Katie Smith. Smith, who averaged 13.8 points for Minnesota before last weekend’s deal, is one of the WNBA’s most prolific scorers. …

Last night’s game originally was schedule to air on ESPN2 but was dropped in favor of airing the Houston-Detroit matchup.

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