- The Washington Times - Tuesday, July 26, 2011

The Washington Mystics opened the second half of the season Tuesday night against the visiting San Antonio Silver Stars with only one thought — to right a sinking ship that had them in last place in the the Eastern Conference with a 3-11 record.

But the slide continued as the Mystics lost 73-67 to the Silver Stars in a hard fought, physical contest, to drop them to 3-12 on the season. Washington shot just 37.5 percent to the Silver Stars‘ 45.9 percent, and committed 19 turnovers to the Silver Stars‘ 16.

“Again, a tough game for us, but there were a lot of positives,” Mystics coach Trudi Lacey said. “San Antonio is supposedly one of the best teams in the league and we hung with them, but we made some critical mistakes at the end. We missed free throws, we missed layups,” Lacey said.

Silver Stars guard Becky Hammon, a six-time All-Star, led all scorers with 22 points, while Mystics forward Crystal Langhorne led the Mystics with 19 points. Marissa Coleman added 14, and the newest Mystic, DeMya Walker, played 11:34 off the bench and scored four points.

“DeMya, for not even having a practice, I thought she did pretty good. We have another post player coming off the bench with some experience now, so that should help us. Our team just continues to fight and get better,” Lacey said.

But the Mystics continue to follow a pattern that has plagued them all season: keeping games close, but finding themselves unable to finish down the stretch, resulting in a lot of close losses at the end.

“When you lose some close games, I think toward the end it makes you wonder a little bit. I thought we had overcome that when we came back against L.A.,” said Lacey, referring to the Mystics’ 89-85 overtime comeback win on the road against the L.A. Sparks on July 17.

“Sometimes with our lack of experience, when the pressure is on, we are making some mental mistakes and some bad decisions with the ball down the stretch,” Lacey said.

Although the team added experience with Walker, and subtracted youth by waiving rookies Ta’Shia Phillips and Karima Christmas, the Mystics are still a very young team. Other than point guard Kelly Miller, a 10-year veteran, no one in the starting lineup has more than three years of experience in the league.

It gives Miller a chance to lead by example.

“I think it’s tough. We play hard all game, and then it come down to the little things at the end,” Miller said. “There are shots we should have made, turnovers we shouldn’t have made, so it’s frustrating. I think we just have to stay positive, hang in there and know we’re getting better, we’re getting close.

“I’ve been on teams before where we’ve struggled. But we’re very talented; we just have to learn how to play for 40 minutes.”

Center Nicky Anosike believes that the team needs to play smart, and stay disciplined in order to turn things around.

“We’re always right there, but we just have to stay positive, and expect not to just be there, but to get over the hump,” Anosike said. “You always have to learn something from a loss, or else you’ll never get out of the losing streak. We have a lot of things we have to take from this loss, and a lot of things we have to correct if we want to beat New York.”

The Mystics next game is on the road against the New York Liberty on Thursday.

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