Late rally lifts Mystics over Sky

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CHICAGO — Digging holes is something the Washington Mystics have gotten used to this season, but last night they were able to pull themselves out of one with a fourth-quarter comeback.

After trailing for most of the game at UIC Pavilion, the Mystics rallied for a 77-73 win over the Chicago Sky thanks to a 13-0 fourth-quarter run.

Monique Currie started the comeback on a layup with just more than six minutes left to pull the Mystics within 64-58. Alana Beard“s pair of free throws with 2:40 left gave Washington a 69-64 lead. Nakia Sanford”s layup at 4:30 gave the Mystics the lead for good.

“It came down to focus and heart and wanting it more,” said Beard, who scored a game-high 25 points and pulled down seven rebounds. “For some reason we like digging ourselves a hole and coming back. That”s been the story of our team the entire season.”

The Mystics (6-12) trailed 8-2 early in the first quarter, 18-16 going into the second, 32-28 at halftime and 55-46 after three. They were seemingly down for the count with 8:06 left in the fourth quarter and the Sky leading 61-50.

But Beard“s 13 points in the final 10 minutes, and Currie“s nine (16 for the game) helped the Mystics snap a two-game losing streak in their attempt to get out of the basement in the WNBA’s Eastern Conference.

Currie, who was traded to the Mystics from Chicago in May, hit two free throws with 29 seconds left to give Washington a 73-69 cushion.

“I was just on the bench waiting for my chance to get in there and make something happen,” Currie said. “I think we all collectively looked at ourselves and saw that we could do a little bit more and leave it on the floor.”

The Sky (8-9), led by Candice Dupree”s 24 points and 11 rebounds, got to within two points twice in the last 30 seconds, but Beard hit four free throws to seal the victory.

“Once we learn how to start it out from the very get-go, I think we”re going to get a great team,” Beard said. “For some reason we start to focus at the very end and when we start to focus at the beginning of the game that”s when we”re going to become a great team.”

DeLisha Milton-Jones added 12 points for the Mystics and Nikki Teasley had 10.

Mystics coach Tree Rollins missed the game because he was being inducted into the African American Ethnic Sports Hall of Fame. Assistant coach Marynell Meadors, who hasn’t been a head coach since guiding the Charlotte Sting in 2000, filled in for Rollins.

“In the last four or five games we haven”t really played great defense and we haven”t played great team defense,” Meadors said. “I thought especially in the fourth quarter we came around and played really good defense. We got a little more aggressive on the boards.”

And how did it feel to be a head coach again?

“It felt a little strange because I”m usually telling Tree plays and now everybody”s telling me plays to run,” Meadors said. “I was really proud of our team and thought everybody did a great job.”

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