- The Washington Times - Monday, June 27, 2005

The Washington Mystics made all the right adjustments at halftime against the Sacramento Monarchs yesterday. What the Mystics couldn’t change, however, was a poor start that rendered their second-half comeback almost useless.

Sacramento hit almost all of its shots early and made key ones late to hold off the Mystics 62-57 at MCI Center. The Western Conference leaders scored only 22 points in the second half but shot 85 percent from the floor in the first 12 minutes of the game and used that momentum to carry them throughout.

The loss ended Washington’s winning streak at three games overall and four at home.

“If you give someone with that kind of talent an 18-point lead, it’s very hard to come back,” Mystics coach Richie Adubato said. “We were fighting hard, but everything has to go right.”

The Mystics (6-7) tied the game at 54-54 with 2:03 left on a Chasity Melvin jumper, and it looked like Washington might complete the improbable rally. But just as the breaks started going Washington’s way, Sacramento (9-3) awoke from its second-half slumber. The Monarchs finished the game with an 8-3 run.

Ticha Penicheiro, a 15.8 percent 3-point shooter, nailed one from behind the arc with a minute left to seal the game for Sacramento.

The Monarchs made 11 of their first 13 shots, and the Mystics’ defense looked hopeless for much of the first half. The Monarchs finished the half shooting 56.3 percent from the floor.

But Sacramento cooled considerably after halftime, making only nine shots. The Mystics switched to a zone defense in the second half, cutting off the lanes Sacramento exploited in Washington’s man-to-man defense in the first half.

“We had no intensity [in the first half],” Washington guard Alana Beard said. “They were picking our defense apart.

Guard Coco Miller was the spark plug for the Mystics, coming up with timely steals and instantly pushing the ball in transition. Every time it seemed like Washington had stalled, Miller nailed a shot or made a nifty assist to put Washington back into the game. She finished with 10 points and three assists.

Beard, who scored only two points Friday night against Detroit, broke out of her brief slump, scoring 15 points. Sacramento’s DeMya Walker led all scorers with 24 points.

“We came out more aggressive in the second half,” Miller said. “It took a lot of energy to get back into the game. But we didn’t run out of steam. They just hit a couple of key shots at the end.”

Shock 79, Sparks 73

AUBURN HILLS, Mich. — Deanna Nolan had 22 points to help Detroit pull off the biggest comeback in WNBA history, rebounding from a 25-point deficit to beat Los Angeles yesterday.

Cheryl Ford added 15 points and 15 rebounds for the Shock, who trailed 35-10 in the first half. The Shock set the previous record June9, 2004, when they came back from 23 down to win at Indiana.

Ruth Riley, the MVP of Detroit’s 2003 WNBA Finals win over Los Angeles, added 11 points before fouling out.

Tamika Whitmore led the Sparks with 19 points, while Chamique Holdsclaw added 17 and Lisa Leslie had 16.

Lynx 73, Storm 70

MINNEAPOLIS — Katie Smith scored 22 points to lead Minnesota to a victory over Seattle.

Smith scored 15 of the last 20 points for the Lynx, who have won four straight at home and have beaten the defending WNBA champions in both matchups this season. Kristi Harrower had 13 points and seven rebounds, while Nicole Ohlde added 12 points.

Rookie Suzie Batkovic had 12 points and Simone Edwards added 11 for Seattle, which has lost three of four. Lauren Jackson had 13 rebounds, but was held to six points on 1-of-11 shooting.

Smith played just 19 minutes because of early foul trouble. She picked up two quick ones and got her fifth just under four minutes into the second half.

With Smith resting, Seattle came back to tie the game at 47 with 9:30 left on Simone Edwards’ turnaround jumper. The Storm took their first lead two minutes later on Sue Bird’s first basket, a fastbreak layup that made it 52-51 with 7:29 left.

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