Sunday, July 8, 2007

CHICAGO — Digging holes is something the Washington Mystics have gotten used to this season, but last night they were able to pull themselves out of one with a fourth-quarter comeback.

After trailing for most of the game at UIC Pavilion, the Mystics rallied for a 77-73 win over the Chicago Sky thanks to a 13-0 fourth-quarter run.

Monique Currie started the comeback on a layup with just more than six minutes left to pull the Mystics within 64-58. Alana Beard”s pair of free throws with 2:40 left gave Washington a 69-64 lead. Nakia Sanford”s layup at 4:30 gave the Mystics the lead for good.

“It came down to focus and heart and wanting it more,” said Beard, who scored a game-high 25 points and pulled down seven rebounds. “For some reason we like digging ourselves a hole and coming back. That”s been the story of our team the entire season.”

The Mystics (6-12) trailed 8-2 early in the first quarter, 18-16 going into the second, 32-28 at halftime and 55-46 after three. They were seemingly down for the count with 8:06 left in the fourth quarter and the Sky leading 61-50.

But Beard”s 13 points in the final 10 minutes, and Currie”s nine (16 for the game) helped the Mystics snap a two-game losing streak in their attempt to get out of the basement in the WNBA’s Eastern Conference.

Currie, who was traded to the Mystics from Chicago in May, hit two free throws with 29 seconds left to give Washington a 73-69 cushion.

“I was just on the bench waiting for my chance to get in there and make something happen,” Currie said. “I think we all collectively looked at ourselves and saw that we could do a little bit more and leave it on the floor.”

The Sky (8-9), led by Candice Dupree”s 24 points and 11 rebounds, got to within two points twice in the last 30 seconds, but Beard hit four free throws to seal the victory.

“Once we learn how to start it out from the very get-go, I think we”re going to get a great team,” Beard said. “For some reason we start to focus at the very end and when we start to focus at the beginning of the game that”s when we”re going to become a great team.”

DeLisha Milton-Jones added 12 points for the Mystics and Nikki Teasley had 10.

Mystics coach Tree Rollins missed the game because he was being inducted into the African American Ethnic Sports Hall of Fame. Assistant coach Marynell Meadors, who hasn’t been a head coach since guiding the Charlotte Sting in 2000, filled in for Rollins.

“In the last four or five games we haven”t really played great defense and we haven”t played great team defense,” Meadors said. “I thought especially in the fourth quarter we came around and played really good defense. We got a little more aggressive on the boards.”

And how did it feel to be a head coach again?

“It felt a little strange because I”m usually telling Tree plays and now everybody”s telling me plays to run,” Meadors said. “I was really proud of our team and thought everybody did a great job.”

Silver Stars 80, Storm 73

SAN ANTONIO — Erin Buescher scored 11 of her career-high 27 points in the fourth quarter to help San Antonio hold off Seattle.

Helen Darling and Sophia Young had 11 points apiece and Vickie Johnson added 10 for the Silver Stars (11-6), who has won three straight and seven of its last nine.

Tanisha Wright scored a career-high 23 points and Lauren Jackson had 15 points and 13 rebounds as Seattle (10-8) snapped a three-game winning streak. Rookie Katie Gearlds had 11 points, and Betty Lennox and Iziane Castro Marques added 10 each.

Both teams played without their All-Star guards. San Antonio’s Becky Hammon missed her third straight game because of a sprained left foot, and Seattle was without Sue Bird for the second consecutive night after she had surgery on her left knee on Friday.

San Antonio opened the third quarter with a 10-4 run that pushed its lead to 52-29 on Darling’s 3-pointer with 6:31 left.

The Storm then scored nine straight points — all by Gearlds — to pull within 14 about 1:45 later. Seattle also had an 8-0 run to pull to 58-49 going into the fourth quarter.

Wright hit a 3-pointer with 7:10 left to cut the deficit to seven, and then made a layup with 2:47 left to pull the Storm to 70-65.

However, Buescher hit a 3 29 seconds later and the Silver Stars shot 6-for-8 from the line in the final minute to seal the win.

Buescher, who was 9-from-15 from the field and 7-for-8 from the free-throw line, also had six rebounds and career high-tying five steals.

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