- The Washington Times - Wednesday, June 14, 2006

The Washington Mystics overcame a slow start last night against the Charlotte Sting to remain undefeated at Verizon Center.

The Mystics snapped a two-game losing streak with an 87-70 victory in front of 8,004, improving to 5-3 on the year and 5-0 at home.

Washington, which has blown out its visitors by an average of 21.0 points, dropped the Sting to 2-5.

Point guard Nikki Teasley, who leads the WNBA with 7.0 assists a game, continued her role as offensive catalyst, leading the Mystics with 19 points and six assists, including four 3-pointers. Teasley also had a team-high four steals and grabbed five rebounds.

“We play very relaxed at home, we get out of the box quickly and we play intense early,” Mystics coach Richie Adubato said. “And as a result we are able to force turnovers early and get a big lead. Our players feel very comfortable here.”

But the first half was anything but comfortable for the Mystics, who have the league’s third-best offense with an average of 82.0 points a game.

Shooting just 12-for-36 from the field in the first half, the Mystics overcame a 37-34 halftime deficit.

“The first half was not a very good example of Mystic basketball. We tried to go one-on-one too much and we did not execute our offense,” Adubato said. “Therefore we wound up taking a lot of shots that were off balance and really weren’t the type of shots we want to take. Of course people need to know their game, and they’ve got to shoot the shot they know they can make. We didn’t do that the first half and as a result we were down.”

But the Mystics opened the second half with a 7-2 run and capitalized on the Sting’s 27 turnovers, 15 of those coming on Mystics steals. Washington scored 33 points in the fourth quarter, tying a league record.

“Once one turnovers started, it just continued and snowballed, and they took advantage of our inexperienced ball club,” Sting coach Muggsy Bogues said.

Currie, a Bullis School graduate, not only made a homecoming to the District, but also played against with former Duke teammate, Alana Beard.

“It’s cool to play against her, but we don’t talk too much on the floor,” Currie said. “But it’s definitely exciting to play against her.”

Alana Beard finished with 18 points and three assists for the Mystics, despite only hitting one field goal in the first quarter.

Although the Mystics ran into foul trouble late in the game with both DeLisha Milton-Jones (18 points) and Chasity Melvin (14 points) fouling out in the fourth quarter, they managed to capitalize on the absence of the Sting’s leading scorer, Tammy Sutton-Brown.

Sutton-Brown, who averages 11.2 points a game, injured her knee in the first quarter and did not return. That forced the Sting to search for another scoring source.

Tangela Smith filled that role, finishing with a season-high 24 points.

“The only person that really hurt us was Tangela Smith,” Adubato said. “She had a very good game and basically she hurt us in transition. … We got a break because I don’t know what happened to Sutton-Brown, because she certainly is a force for them. … We’ll take that. That’s a gift.”

The Mystics travel to Charlotte tomorrow in search of their first road win of the season.

Washington (0-3 on the road) lost 73-63 to the Sting on May 25.

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