- The Washington Times - Sunday, June 4, 2006

The only thing that stopped the Washington Mystics’ offense in yesterday’s lopsided victory against the Detroit Shock at Verizon Center was a clock malfunction, which caused a lengthy delay early in the third quarter.

Washington matched the best start in its nine-year history with a 92-68 blowout of Detroit and has scored at least 90 points in each of its three home games, all wins. The Mystics (3-1) capitalized on a horrific shooting performance by the Shock, who missed 17 of their first 18 shots and shot 29.9 percent overall.

Detroit was hurt by the absence of its best player, Cheryl Ford, who was sidelined with a sprained left ankle. The Shock’s main post presence is averaging 14.3 points and is the league’s second-leading rebounder at 11.5 a game. The Mystics broke out to 14-5 lead, led by as many as 17 before halftime and never were seriously threatened despite the 28-minute delay in the third quarter.

“We got a break,” Mystics coach Richie Adubato said of Ford’s absence. “We took advantage of it.”

The Mystics placed all five starters in double figures as DeLisha Milton-Jones led the way with 21 points and Alana Beard had 18. Washington shot 52.9 percent and made nine of 17 (52.6 percent) of its 3-pointers. Milton-Jones’ performance was even more impressive since she spent two days in Georgia after her grandmother’s death and returned to Washington yesterday morning.

The Shock made only four of 17 3-pointers. They also routinely missed contested jumpers as well as open layups.

The Shock (3-2) came to Washington with a three-game winning streak after an emotional one-point win over New York two days earlier, and looked like a spent group. Swin Cash led Detroit with 15 points.

“The way we prepared for the game when we got to the gym was unacceptable,” Shock coach Bill Laimbeer said. “We saw it when we came to the gym, their body language, their preparation before they walked on the floor to play the game. It was disappointing.”

Laimbeer is considering protesting the game to the WNBA office. He said the contest should have been called when the game clock and shot clock went out early in the third quarter. After the delay, shot clocks were placed on each baseline and the game clock was kept by a Mystics’ employee at the scorer’s table.

“It was a clock integrity issue,” said Laimbeer, who was upset the whole game and picked up a technical foul in the first half. “They should have an official running the clock, not an employee. Who knows what they were doing? Were they using a running clock?”

Because of the delay, the Mystics will offer fans at yesterday’s game a free $10, second-tier ticket to the June 13 game against Charlotte. The offer will take place only tomorrow at the Verizon Center box office.

Washington took control of the contest early with a seven-point run to build a 14-5 lead. Nikki Teasley (11 points, five assists) began the run with a 3-pointer off the backboard. It proved to be a good omen for the Mystics. Teasley also closed the stretch with a backdoor layup off a perfect feed from Crystal Robinson (11 points).

Detroit made a run in the second quarter and cut the deficit to 32-25 on layup by Plenette Pierson (13 points) with 3:19 left. After a Mystics’ timeout, Beard nailed a 17-foot jumper. Washington used a 10-point run before halftime to reassert control. Robinson nailed a 3-pointer after hitting a free throw after Laimbeer’s technical to make it 44-27.

“We have to run with the athletes we have on this team,” Milton-Jones said. “It would be dumb not to with the guards we have on this team.”

The Mystics led 53-34 when the clocks went out and the Shock closed to within 66-57 after the delay on a 3-pointer by Katie Smith (10 points) with 46 seconds left in the third quarter. But Washington removed any doubt by answering with an 18-point run. Two free throws by Chasity Melvin (13 points) began the barrage. Beard and Milton-Jones each added a 3-pointer.

Another 3-pointer by Beard made it a 23-point margin and rookie Nikki Blue closed the rally with a layup to make it 84-57 with 4:25 left.

“The break kind of took away a little of our killer instinct,” Milton-Jones said. “They hit 3s and the outcome could have been different, but we regained our composure.”

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