- The Washington Times - Thursday, July 19, 2007

The Washington Mystics would like to pretend they are undefeated. Mystics coach Tree Rollins wrote 0-0 on the board earlier this week, hoping his team could start the second half of the season with a clean slate.

But the Mystics have the same problems they had before the WNBA All-Star break.

As the 13,997 fans used their flip drums to make Verizon Center deafening yesterday, it would have been easy for the Mystics to feel proud of themselves. They had just defeated the Houston Comets 65-58 after trailing by 14 points at halftime, and the victory left the Mystics (8-12) with a three-game winning streak.

Washington guard Alana Beard brought the team back to reality. The Mystics had defeated the 6-15 Comets, the second-worst team in the Western Conference. And they continued their trend of slow starts and late-game comebacks.


“We can’t win like this,” Beard told her teammates.

The Mystics have trailed after the first quarter in 11 of their 20 games and have rallied to win only four of those. Washington rallied in similar fashion against the Detroit Shock on June 29, when it pulled off a one-point victory after trailing by 16 at halftime.

The Mystics closed out the final 5:59 of yesterday’s game with a 17-1 run, including 11 straight points. The Comets scored only seven fourth-quarter points and couldn’t make a field goal after Tina Thompson’s jumper gave Houston a 57-48 lead with 5:59 remaining. Houston scored only on a foul shot by Thompson after that.

Mystics center Nakia Sanford scored eight of her nine points in the fourth quarter.

“It would’ve been a big loss because we’re in the hunt to try to get into the playoffs,” Rollins said. “We couldn’t afford to lose to teams that we feel we should win [against].”

Washington wouldn’t have won if it hadn’t improved its poor defense and rebounding from the first half. The Comets outrebounded the Mystics 25-15 in the half while shooting 41.9 percent from the field.

Houston breezed past the Mystics’ flimsy interior defense and made eight of its 11 free throws (72.7 percent). Meanwhile, Washington only shot 31.0 percent from the field and suffered a scoring drought from the 1:10 mark in the first quarter until 8:27 remained in the second period.

A frustrated Rollins called a timeout when the Mystics trailed 24-12 with 8:33 left in the second quarter.

Tempers flared when Comets center Michelle Snow was called for a technical foul for elbowing Sanford with 7:03 left in the third quarter. Sanford stormed toward Snow, but Beard pulled her away.

“We need to put that energy into the defensive end,” Beard told her.

The teams were called for 46 total fouls.

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