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“I wasn’t going to do anything,” Sanford later said. “It was just an initial reaction. I don’t really stay angry very long. I was just angry initially. It’s all good. It was the heat of the moment. Michelle is actually a very nice person.”

Trailing 51-41 after the third quarter, Washington opened the fourth with a 7-2 run to reduce Houston’s lead to 53-48 with 6:51 left. Suddenly the Mystics started to limit Houston’s offense and second-chance opportunities. Washington outrebounded Houston 43-39.

Both DeLisha Milton-Jones and Monique Currie finished with double-doubles by grabbing 11 rebounds each and scoring 16 and 11 points, respectively. Beard scored 10 of her team-high 16 points in the final quarter.

“It’s happened too many times,” Currie said of the slow starts.. “It’s nice to have a lead and have other teams chase you. But it still shows how talented we are. When we execute and play hard, we can really make runs on teams.”

Milton-Jones would like the Mystics to erase the first-quarter funk. But she eyed the board that read the Mystics are 1-0 after the All-Star break. She said that’s all that matters in the end — so long as the Mystics don’t repeat their mistakes.

“I don’t care if this was the ugliest game played in history as long as we get that win,” Milton-Jones said. “Coming out of that All-Star break, we don’t want to go on a losing streak. We want to go on a winning streak.”