- The Washington Times - Thursday, June 16, 2011

The Mystics followed a well-traveled road in their game against the Connecticut Sun on Thursday night, falling behind early and mounting a comeback that fell short. Through a combination of unforced turnovers and offensive struggles, Washington trailed by as many as 17 in the first half en route to losing 79-71 at Verizon Center, in its second straight defeat.

Connecticut’s Tina Charles led all scorers with 26 points, and Renee Montgomery added 23 points and five assists. Forward Asjha Jones, usually a formidable post presence, played just under 21 minutes because of foul trouble.

Washington (1-3) struggled from the beginning, scoring just 11 points in the first quarter and committing five turnovers.

“It’s a matter of us changing our mindset and getting out, getting some stops early,” coach Trudi Lacey said. “When we turn the ball over, we give the other team easy baskets. It’s a combination of taking care of the ball, getting some good shots early in the game so that the other team can play against a set defense. We’re not doing that because we’re turning the ball over early, giving people easy baskets and putting ourselves in a hole.”

Kelly Miller led the Mystics, playing all 40 minutes and scoring 19 points. Matee Ajavon, who fouled out with just under four minutes left in the game, added 11.

The Mystics’ bench contributed 13 points. Karima Christmas hit two key 3-pointers to spark Washington’s comeback bid, and Victoria Dunlap had four points and three rebounds in 11 minutes.

“[Dunlap] is progressing,” Lacey said. “I thought she gave us some good minutes tonight. You can see she’s very athletic. For the rookies, the game is so fast. In a lot of things, they’re just a step behind. Plays that they could make in college, they’re not here at this level. They’ve got to continue to learn to choose their spots.”

The Mystics took their only lead at 65-64 with just less than six minutes to play on a basket by Nicky Anosike, but the Sun scored nine consecutive points to seal their victory. Anosike, who recorded 10 points and 13 rebounds, had a hard time seeing any positives in the failed comeback.

“I don’t think that we can find a positive in that at all,” Anosike said. “We have to start better, and that’s the bottom line.”

Playing better basketball in the opening minutes will be the team’s focus going forward.

“We have the potential to start games well, which we haven’t been doing lately, but we have the potential to start games and be able to keep the pace up that we bring later on in games, and having that mentality of always focusing on playing hard, playing for the team,” Dunlap said.

The Mystics have one day to regroup before facing the Shock in Tulsa on Saturday. Injured guard/forward Alana Beard and center Ta’Shia Phillips still are day to day.

“Mentally, we have to get out of the loss,” Dunlap said. “We’ve had two losses in a row, so we can’t really think about that. We have to think about playing hard and just getting out of this hole.”

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