- The Washington Times - Sunday, August 19, 2012

With just seconds left in regulation and the Mystics down by three to the Chicago Sky, it looked as though a much-needed victory was about to slip right through Washington’s hands.

Matee Ajavon wasn’t about to let it happen. Ajavon raced up the court and drained a three-pointer with just 1.7 seconds left, sending the game into overtime.

Fortunately, Ajavon’s last minute heroics, plus the home court advantage, was just the break the Mystics needed. Led in the overtime period by Ajavon, who fouled out with less than a minute left, the Mystics pulled off a 75-71 win over the Sky on Sunday at Verizon Center.

“It was a relief for me,” Ajavon said. “I’m glad I was able to hit it. In overtime, we just tried to jab them first. We know that Chicago’s a tough team and we knew it was going to be a tough [game]. We stayed aggressive, that was the most important thing.”

After blowout road losses to the Indiana Fever and the Minnesota Lynx, the win was a real confidence booster for the Mystics, who now have a post-Olympic record of 1-2, and 5-16 overall.

Once again, the Mystics struggled on offense right from the start, scoring just 12 points in the first quarter, but were ahead at halftime after a disastrous second quarter for Chicago. The Sky missed 11 straight shots and scored just six points, allowing the Mystics to go on a 16-3 run to take a slim 28-25 lead at halftime. 

The Mystics stepped up their offense in the third quarter, shooting close to 50 percent, but struggled in the fourth, and wound up shooting 43.3 for the game. On defense, they managed to hold the Sky to just 37.3 percent shooting, their second-best defensive performance all season. In May, the Mystics held the Tulsa Shock to just 30 percent.

Leading the way for Chicago were Epiphanny Prince (18) and Sylvia Fowles (13). For the Mystics, as usual, it was Ajavon (22) and Crystal Langhorne (18), the only Mystics players in double figures.

The Mystics also did a much better job of sharing the ball than the Sky, recording 21 assists to the Sky’s 11, including a career-high eight for Jasmine Thomas.

“It means a lot [to get the win],” Langhorne said. “We’ve been working really hard, and we started off with that really tough back-to-back, so to come back and get the win, it was big.”

Coach Trudi Lacey liked the fight and the toughness she saw from her players.

“We’ve asked our team to work on specific things, and one of them is consistency,” Lacey said. “Our defense was much improved. I felt like we played through a lot of things if things didn’t go our way and everybody made a contribution.”

A telling moment came at halftime, when the Mystics organization recognized their All-Time team, the top five players in franchise history as chosen by a fan vote. The All-Time team – Langhorne, Murriel Page, Vicky Bullett, Nikki McCray and Chamique Holdsclaw - took the court to an enthusiastic ovation.

However, team owner Sheila Johnson, who presented each player with a bouquet of flowers and a portrait, was greeted by a smattering of boos from the small but vocal crowd of Mystics fans who no doubt recalled with nostalgia the team’s better days.



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