- The Washington Times - Tuesday, August 23, 2011

It was a game that had just about everything.

The Washington Mystics were mired in a five-game losing streak and desperate for a win. The Sparks were looking for payback against a team that mounted an historic overtime comeback win against them in Los Angeles last month.

And just as in the Mystics’ history-making comeback in July, Tuesday night’s rematch at Verizon Center went into overtime as well. But the Sparks (12-15) flipped the script with an 86-82 win

Of all the heartbreaking losses the Mystics (5-21) have been through this season, this one might have been the toughest of all.

“I was thinking earlier that when the earthquake hit, maybe that was a sign that we’d be able to pull out a close one,” joked Mystics coach Trudi Lacey.

“But all jokes aside, I was really proud of our team for coming back and fighting, especially after a very tough loss against Chicago [71-70] and then going to Indiana and not playing well at all [83-51]. We had an opportunity to win the game at the end, and it was the same story. We didn’t execute on the last play and lost it.”

The Sparks were led by Candace Parker with 19 points and nine rebounds, and Tina Thompson scored 15 points and had 10 rebounds.

The Mystics again were led by Crystal Langhorne, who had 28 points and nine rebounds. Matee Ajavon had 14 points and four rebounds.

The Mystics won the rebound battle 37-32 but lost the turnover battle 17-14.

The Mystics had hoped to take advantage of the Sparks’ lineup, which lacks a true center, but with all-time stars such as Tina Thompson, Ticha Penicheiro and Parker, the matchup challenges proved too much for the Mystics to overcome.

“It’s really tough,” Langhorne said of the Mystics’ sixth straight loss. “We’ve had 15 tough losses like this. It’s hard, but we just have to keep playing and get ready for the next one. We thought we had this one, but we just fell a little bit short.

“We had some turnovers, some missed shots and they executed, so they came out with the win. For us, we just have to focus on the next game.”

Now in her 11th WNBA season, guard Coco Miller has seen her share of difficult seasons, including this one, her first with Washington.

“I’ve had other tough years where we didn’t win too many games, but I see improvements with this team. We’ve improved as the season has gone one, so that been a positive note for us,” Miller said. “In the future, that will just make us stronger.

“We just have to continue to have confidence in ourselves in our abilities and our game plan; just come out and play hard and give it all we have. That’s all we can ask for right now.”

• Carla Peay can be reached at cpeay@washingtontimes.com.

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