- The Washington Times - Wednesday, May 28, 2008

inconsistent point guard play and a sputtering offense.

They left Verizon Center feeling better about both.

Alana Beard scored a team-high 25 points, and Taj McWilliams-Franklin added 19 to fuel a second-half comeback as the Mystics (2-2) evened their record with an 80-74 win over the expansion Atlanta Dream.

With starting point guard Nikki Blue out with a high ankle sprain, coach Tree Rollins turned to backup Amber Jacobs after initially mulling the idea of using Beard as the team’s primary ball handler. Jacobs responded with just one turnover in 17 minutes.

“I knew that all they were expecting out of me was to set the team up and put them in an offense and handle the pressure,” Jacobs said. “I was confident going in because all my teammates have faith in me. It felt good to contribute.”

For the first time this season, the Mystics got off to a fast start, making their first five shots. But before long, Washington devolved into the cold-shooting bunch it has been this season.

The Mystics, who entered the game averaging a WNBA-worst 60.7 points, shot 3-for-11 the rest of the quarter and watched as the Dream (0-4) outscored them 21-7 during that span. Washington didn’t fare much better in the second quarter, in which it shot a shade less than 29 percent. Not even Beard, the team’s leading scorer, could avert the offensive funk. She finished the first half with six points.

The Dream, meanwhile, displayed an offense prowess they have not yet shown in the young season. Atlanta shot an even 50 percent in the first half, dwarfing their season average of 34.7 percent en route to a 38-31 halftime lead.

The Mystics emerged from the locker room after halftime with a newfound energy and efficiency. They blitzed the Dream with a fast-moving, high-powered offensive show. And most importantly, Beard and McWilliams-Franklin found their shooting strokes. Once the Mystics’ captains got going, the rest of the team followed suit.

“[Taj] is very experienced. She makes everybody around her better,” Rollins said. “She seemed to come up and hit the big shot, make the big pass and pick up a loose ball. Everything we want from a basketball player she does.”

The Mystics led by as many as nine in the fourth quarter, but the Dream closed to within 71-70 with 2:24 left. Beard responded by scoring seven of the Mystics’ final nine points to keep Atlanta at bay.

Monique Currie (14) and Nakia Sanford (11) were the other Mystics starters to score in double figures.

“Each night now these past four games a different piece of our puzzle has shown up,” Rollins said. “We just need to get everybody to show up on the same night.”

Fever 75, Sun 46

UNCASVILLE, Conn. - Katie Douglas scored 23 points in her return to Connecticut, leading Indiana over the Sun.

Douglas, who played five seasons in Connecticut, was traded to Indiana for Tamika Whitmore during the offseason.

She scored 14 of her points in the first half when the Fever (2-1) took a double-digit lead they never gave up. Tan White added 15 points for the Fever.

Lindsay Whalen led the Sun (3-1) with 13 points.

Connecticut trailed by 22 points at halftime and got as close as 16 early in the third quarter at 48-32. But Indiana outscored Connecticut 14-7 the rest of the way and had a 62-39 lead entering the fourth period.

Lynx 98, Comets 92 (OT)

HOUSTON - Seimone Augustus scored 25 points and Nicky Anosike added 20 more to help Minnesota beat Houston in overtime in Houston’s home opener.

Augustus finished with nine rebounds and four assists and the Lynx erased a 12-point deficit in the last five minutes of regulation and forced overtime when Augustus hit an easy basket with 26.8 seconds left.

In the last 15 seconds of the fourth quarter, the Comets’ Erica White turned the ball over but the Lynx could not get a shot off.

Minnesota then scored six of the first eight points in overtime, including four by Anosike in the first 2:57.

Anna De Forge added 19 points and six rebounds for the Lynx (2-0), who are off to their best start since 1999.

Tina Thompson had 20 points and nine rebounds as the Comets fell to 0-3 for the second straight season.



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