- The Washington Times - Monday, September 15, 2008

Minnesota was playing without its top two scorers. The way the Washington Mystics ended their season, the Lynx might have been able to play without their top five and still won.

The Lynx eased to a 96-70 victory at Verizon Center on Sunday, sending the Mystics to their ninth consecutive defeat.

The Mystics (10-24) ended the season playing so poorly that it didn’t matter who their opponent was. They looked just as bad in Sunday’s loss to Minnesota (16-18) as they did earlier this week against Eastern Conference powers Detroit and Connecticut. This was Washington’s worst season since going 9-25 in 2003.

Interim coach Jessie Kenlaw clearly was frustrated with the Mystics’ struggles, and as the losses piled up they began to wear her down.

“As I look back, having known some things I know now, I’m not sure I would have accepted the position,” she said.

Washington’s nine-game losing streak to end the season seemed even longer because of the WNBA’s month-long break for the Beijing Olympics. Their last win of the season came July 25 against Atlanta, the only team with fewer wins than Washington this season.

The Mystics talked of a rejuvenation during the month of practice in August, but they still were plagued with poor shooting, turnovers and listless defense.

Their flat play to end the season came after the public announcement by team president Sheila Johnson that there is a new era of accountability throughout the organization. The Mystics have made the playoffs just four times in their existence, and Johnson is intent on turning the franchise around. The players heard that message and are anticipating changes during the offseason.

“You look at the teams who are in the playoffs and the players they have - they have All-Stars, they have veterans, they have leaders,” forward Monique Currie said. “You gotta bring players in that will help us win. I think a lot of us can help with that, but we need to get better, and we need to get better players. That’s just the bottom line. I’m pretty positive that will happen.”

Mystics officials have been pleased with Kenlaw’s fiery coaching style, and the players support the work she has done as well.

“Jessie and [assistant coach] Crystal Robinson instilled certain things in each player that they didn’t know they had,” guard Alana Beard said. “When Jessie and Crystal took over, that last month I think every single person in this locker room improved on something. Whether all of us are back here or whether we’re not, hopefully we can take this and use it to our benefit.”

But the results didn’t follow. Kenlaw finished the season 2-10 after taking over for Tree Rollins on July 19, and the career assistant is now at a crossroads.

“I haven’t considered anything at this point,” Kenlaw said. “All I know is my tenure as the Mystics’ interim coach is over, and I’ll just have to wait and see what’s the next chapter.”

Fever 103, Mercury 89: Tammy Sutton-Brown scored a career-high 26 points, and Indiana set a franchise scoring record in a home win over Phoenix in the regular-season finale for both teams.

Sparks 65, Storm 48: Marie Ferdinand-Harris scored 14 points, former Mystics player DeLisha Milton-Jones added 12 and host Los Angeles led all the way in beating Seattle in a preview of their WNBA playoff series.

Shock 61, Liberty: Deanna Nolan and Plenette Pierson scored 11 points each to lead Detroit to a road victory in the teams’ season finale.

Katie Smith and Ashley Shields added nine points each, and Nolan and Alexis Hornbuckle had seven rebounds apiece for Detroit (22-12).

Comets 79, Sky 76: Tina Thompson had 26 points, 10 rebounds and four blocks, and visiting Houston beat Chicago. Mistie Williams had 13 points and nine rebounds for Houston (16-17), which won its second straight after dropping its previous five.

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