- The Washington Times - Wednesday, July 16, 2003

Just one win, they would say. Win once and other victories soon will follow.

That was a popular mantra repeated by the Washington Mystics throughout their franchise record-tying 11-game losing streak. Now they have a chance to fulfill their destiny.

Two days after beating the New York Liberty at Madison Square Garden for their first victory since June10, the Mystics (3-14) play host to the Eastern Conference-leading Charlotte Sting in a rare morning game at MCI Center with an opportunity to win back-to-back games for the first time this season. Tipoff is at 11:30.

“We knew we just had to get over that hump,” said point guard Annie Burgess, who tied her career-high with 15 points in the Mystics’ 77-64 win over the Liberty. “It’s exciting to get a win. This is all we needed. We know we’re a good team, and we’ve got a lot of games to go to show that.”

In their Madison Square Garden locker room on Tuesday night, it was hard to miss the smiles that returned to the faces of players who had gone from conference finalists in 2002 to the league’s worst team this season.

“We know how much work it took to get a win,” coach Marianne Stanley said. “We have a real understanding of how hard it was, and we’re going to carry that into our next game.”

Not only do the Mystics want to begin a winning streak, they believe they owe the Sting (12-6) payback. Charlotte, winner of four straight and six of its past seven, handed Washington its 10th straight loss July7, and the 62-56 defeat at MCI is still fresh in the minds of the Mystics.

“We gave them that game,” Chamique Holdsclaw said. “They’re a good team, but they got away with one there. We weren’t able to capitalize on a lot of their errors.”

The Mystics scored the game’s first 11 points and had every chance to open the game up even more. But while the Sting were going more than eight minutes without a point, the Mystics failed to take full advantage by shooting 5-for-16 from the field in that span.

Charlotte trailed by only 24-19 at halftime and was able to nail down the comeback win behind 15 points from Shalonda Enis and 12 from Dawn Staley.

The game was a textbook example of what has led to many of Washington’s losses this season. The Mystics will play well in bunches, but then will be on the other end of an opposing team’s run and never recover.

Against the Liberty, however, the Mystics withstood an 11-3 second-half run by New York that cut Washington’s lead to 46-45 and came right back with a definitive 15-1 spurt.

“We finally had an answer run,” Stanley said. “That’s been our problem all year. I think we’re past that now. It’s been a challenging time, no question, but nobody has hung their heads and quit. I understand the tremendous work that’s in front of us to turn this around, but it’s not work that’s too big for us.”

Note — The Mystics activated guard Zuzana Zirkova and placed Nakia Sanford on the injured list with tendinitis in her right foot. Zirkova had been on the injured list since June6 with a lower back strain.

• The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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