- The Washington Times - Thursday, May 26, 2011

There’s a new feeling surrounding the Washington Mystics this season, and it was evident from the moment they took the court Thursday in their new home white uniforms, appropriately trimmed in red and blue.

The Mystics took on the Chicago Sky in their only preseason home game, an 11:30 a.m. contest billed as the School Day Game, complete with a crowd announced at 9,500 consisting mostly of students. The Mystics didn’t disappoint, winning 66-55. It came on the heels of a 60-57 victory over the Liberty in New York on Wednesday.

“Overall, I thought there were areas where we showed some improvement,” said coach Trudi Lacey. “I was disappointed in our defensive effort the first half, but we came out and everybody made contributions defensively in the second half.”

The Mystics shot 41.2 percent and held the Sky to 35.9 percent.

“I’d like to see us push the ball and run a little bit better,” Lacey said. “Our timing is still a little bit off offensively, but again, it’s still a work in progress.”

Point guard Kelly Miller scored 12 points, including two 3-pointers, and went 6-for-6 from the free throw line. Forward Crystal Langhorne led all scorers with 15 points and nine rebounds.

“I think I’ve worked on my game, especially my ball handling with my right hand,” Langhorne said. “I’m going to continue to work on my shooting, my footwork and my running form, and getting better defensively.”

Alana Beard struggled from the floor, going 0-for-7, but pulled down four rebounds and had two assists. She said it’s part of coming back after missing last season with an Achilles’ injury.

“I have to trust in the process. I can’t expect to jump right in and be where I left off,” Beard said. “We still have a long, long way to go in terms of knowing each other and putting together a better defensive stand for 40 minutes, and not just 20 minutes.”

Backup point guard Jasmine Thomas played just over 16 minutes and scored five points, adding three assists and two rebounds.

“I feel like I’m getting better. I definitely feel like I did better today than yesterday as far as making better decisions and trying to slow down a little bit,” Thomas said. “That’s always a problem I’ve had is always going too fast. I’m just learning so much from all these players and coaches and taking it all in and trying to have fun.”

Sky coach Pokey Chatman came in prepared for the Mystics’ physical style.

“We told our players, they’re long, they’re physical, they have speed and quickness and we need to do some fundamental things - get open, be strong with the basketball, low-ball transfer,” Chatman said. “I thought they started the game physical, and they continued to be physical. We didn’t respond well to that.”

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