- The Washington Times - Sunday, June 26, 2011

With just more than two minutes left to play, during the game’s final timeout, Washington Mystics coach Trudi Lacey glanced down at the Tulsa bench. For a brief moment, Lacey smiled. Then just as quickly, her expression became serious again as she knelt down and began to address her team.

The Mystics were leading 77-55, but there were, after all, still two minutes to play. Lacey continued to coach and the Mystics went on to an 83-63 blowout win, for their first home victory of the season.

As she stood at the podium after the game, Lacey let out a sigh and said “Whew”, before she began to speak. Clearly, it was a sigh of relief for earning a desperately needed win.

“We’re still learning each other. It’s a work in progress, but we’re on the right track. We work hard, and we believe in one another,” Lacey said.

She also is the team’s general manager, so she not only coaches the Mystics, but also puts them together.

“I’m not a mother, but its like raising children.” Lacey said, with a hint of pride in her voice about a her players, who with four rookies on the squad make up the youngest team in the league.

“They [the rookies] play hard every day. At this level, its a different game with a different level of intensity. There are l lot of things going on they have to learn, but the more they play the more comfortable they are and the more they are learning the pro game.”

Lacey’s philosophy is team first, defense first, and Washington finally played that kind of tough team defense from the opening tip. The Mystics jumped out to a 13-3 lead and never looked back.

They dominated the Shock on the glass 43-29 and held them to less than 40 percent shooting and less than 30 percent from the 3-point line.

Crystal Langhorne scored a game-high 23 points, and Matee Ajavon added 21. Marissa Coleman and Nicky Anosike contributed 13 each.

Langhorne also pulled down 10 rebounds.

Only point guard Kelly Miller had an off night, with just three points, but she also did not commit a turnovers in more than 30 minutes.

“They have done a great job of working hard and staying focused,” Lacey said. “They continue to believe in each other, and we continue to work hard at what we want to accomplish.”

Karima Christmas is among the rookies receiving a lot of playing time, along with Jasmine Thomas, and is learning the pro game, and a new system, day by day.

“We’ve been working on a lot of things in practice, and its great to see it come out full circle in these games,” Christmas said. “Our defense is something we really harped on in practice, and we came out and we got key stops against the Shock, and we started that from the jump.”

It was being able to start well from the jump that propelled the Mystics to this win and provided momentum for a team that had lost four straight, lacked a home victory and was at the bottom of the Eastern conference.

“I think a lot of people are doubting us. Maybe a little bit of that doubt crept in here for a minute,” Anosike said.

“To get a win, and not just a win, but one where we’re all playing together and playing well is such a confidence booster. We really needed it after four losses in a row.”

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