- The Washington Times - Monday, July 24, 2006

DeLisha Milton-Jones’ sixth personal foul hurt the Washington Mystics’ chances of winning last night at Verizon Center.

But coach Richie Adubato’s ensuing second technical foul and ejection for arguing the foul all but sealed his team’s fate.

Sue Bird hit two of three free throws — from Milton-Jones’ foul and Adubato’s technical — with less than a minute left to lead the Seattle Storm to a 73-71 victory.

“It is absolutely unforgivable,” Adubato said of his fourth quarter ejection. “I tell my players not to get them, and I can’t get them in those situations. It is an emotion that I let get out of hand tonight. I have never done that before. I have never gotten a technical foul inside of two minutes. So obviously there is a frustration level that reached a certain boiling point. … It is the first time I have ever done it, and it will be the last.”

Although the final score was close, the game was lopsided in the first half.

The Storm led 18-13 after the first quarter. Lauren Jackson scored eight points in the quarter on her way to a team-high 18 points and 11 rebounds.

Storm guard Betty Lennox also scored eight straight points in less than two minutes, helping Seattle to a 36-22 halftime lead. In the first half, the Mystics committed 13 turnovers, and the Storm turned those into 13 points.

In the third quarter, Mystics guard Alana Beard led a comeback, making six of seven shots from the field for 15 points. She finished with a game-high 30 points.

Beard’s effort brought Washington to within 54-49 at the end of the third quarter.

“She was great,” Adubato said. “She had tremendous determination. She was everywhere. She is having a great year, and she can’t even practice. Her ankle is so bad she can’t even practice. … I don’t know how you can not practice and put out a performance like she did because of your timing and the continuity of your play is very difficult when you are not practicing.”

The Mystics continued to claw their way back into the game, eventually taking a 60-59 lead after a Chasity Melvin free throw with 3:33 left. It was Washington’s first lead since it scored the first basket of the game.

But the game slipped away from the Mystics in the final minutes as they were forced to rely on their bench.

Because of an injured hand and a poor first-half performance, Nikki Teasley played just 18 minutes and scored two points.

Milton-Jones, who had 11 points and eight rebounds, was forced to sit more than six minutes before fouling out in the final minute.

“It was lack of focus,” Beard said. “Lack of intensity. We didn’t come ready to play. You can’t do that in this game. You have to come ready to play 40 minutes.”

The Storm placed four players in double figures despite pulling Janelle Burse and Barbara Turner from the starting lineup because of injuries.

The Mystics travel to the Eastern Conference-leading Connecticut Sun tomorrow night.

Note — Forward Latasha Byears did not dress because of foot tendinitis. She remains day-to-day. Adubato said Byears could practice as early as tomorrow.

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