- The Washington Times - Saturday, August 27, 2005

UNCASVILLE, Conn. — Washington coach Richie Adubato said the Mystics had a plan coming into last night’s crucial WNBA game. That plan didn’t include going at Connecticut’s 7-foot-2 center Margo Dydek.

But in the decisive first half, the Mystics challenged Dydek and lost.

Tied at 20-20 with 10:32 left in the opening session, the Sun exploded for a 20-2 run to seize control and eliminate the Mystics from WNBA playoff contention with an 81-47 rout before a sellout crowd at the Mohegan Sun Arena.

Connecticut limited the Mystics to just one field goal in a stretch of 6:56 as it built a 20-point lead with 1:33 left in the half.

While the Sun (25-8) clinched home court throughout the playoffs, the Mystics (15-18) limp home with their sixth loss in the last seven games. Washington lost by a season-high 34 points and had its worst shooting performance of the year (29.2 percent).

With a win, Washington’s game tonight with Detroit at MCI Center could have been a winner-take-all contest for the fourth playoff spot in the East.

“We talked about driving and dishing and not challenging her,” Adubato said of Dydek. “We ran seven or eight plays in a row, challenged her and came out with nothing but a bad shot or a block. That turned into 16 straight points for them and the game.”

Despite rough shooting starts from Alana Beard and Chasity Melvin, the score was tied at 20 with 8:10 left. But when Mystics point guard Temeka Johnson picked up her third foul and went to the bench for the rest of the half, it signaled the end.

Beard’s drive to the basket with 5:51 left in the half cut the Sun lead to 24-22, but Washington missed its next eight shots from the floor and had a pair of turnovers. Connecticut’s Nykesha Sales scored eight points, capping the run by stealing the ball from Beard and taking it in for an easy layup for a 42-22 lead.

Dydek scored just four points but she had a game-high 11 rebounds and three blocks.

“She changes the game,” Beard said. “It’s her height and presence in the lane. She changes shots. You can’t play your regular game.”

Beard and Melvin, who scored a season-high 30 points in Washington’s overtime win over New York on Tuesday, shot a combined 3-for-16 from the field in the first half.

It didn’t get much better in the second half. Melvin (2-for-13) finished with just six points while Beard (3-for-13) had seven. Delisha Milton-Jones was the only Mystic in double figures with 11 points.

Connecticut had three players in double figures led by Sales with 20, Taj McWilliams-Franklin with 18 and Lindsay Whalen with 17.

Any hope of a Washington comeback evaporated in the first five minutes of the second half as the Sun outscored the Mystics 10-2 to build a 26-point lead.

The loss guaranteed Washington will finish with a losing record for the sixth time in eight seasons.

“It was the worst game we’ve played this year,” Adubato said.

“It was definitely heartbreaking,” a subdued Beard said. “They hit shots from every angle on the court.”

It was the 23rd time this season Connecticut used a run of 10 points or more to take command of a contest. For the Sun, it was the biggest winning margin in franchise history.

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