- The Washington Times - Saturday, May 19, 2012

For the first few minutes of the 2012 season, the Washington Mystics looked a lot like the brand new team that general manager and coach Trudi Lacey assembled in the offseason — tougher and more experienced — scoring the first six points against the Chicago Sky at Verizon Center.

But before long, they were in a turnover-laden scoring drought and looked more like the Mystics of old — disorganized and lost — dropping their first game of the season 69-57.

“We came out good, but then we weren’t taking care of the ball,” said Crystal Langhorne, who led the Mystics with 16 points on 7-of-11 shooting and had eight rebounds. “They got steals; they got transition points. We have to clean up on offense. We got sloppy in the first half, really sloppy. We just have to pick it up.”

Washington was down 13 at halftime, having turned the ball over 16 times, and the visiting Sky players were drawing blood, literally. Mystics center Ashley Robinson was the victim of an inadvertent elbow with just over two and a half minutes to play in the half and left the court with blood near her right eye, which trailed down her cheek and onto her uniform.

By the second half, Robinson had on a different uniform, a generic No. 0, and the Mystics started to look like like a different team, making a third-quarter run that cut the lead deficit to three, while holding the Sky to just seven points in that quarter. However, the run was short-lived, as the Sky outscored the Mystics 24-15 in the fourth and pulled away in the closing moments.

Combined with last season’s finish, the Mystics have now lost their last five regular season games and 13 of their last 14.

“A lot of things went wrong that we can control,” said Monique Currie, who finished with 14 points on 5-of-10 shooting. “We can’t get ourselves in holes like that and fight back. Sometimes, you run out of gas. We’ll continue to work; we have some tough people in this locker room.”

Both teams had trouble holding onto the ball. The Mystics had 23 turnovers, which the Sky converted into 25 points, while the Sky turned the ball over an equally-dismal 21 times, leading to 14 points by the Mystics.

The Mystics were without the services of Matee Ajavon, who dressed but did not play. Ajavon sat out the team’s two preseason games with a sore right knee and was described as 75 percent by Lacey, who didn’t mince words in describing the team’s poor showing.

“I would expect players with experience who have been in the league to be able to make better decisions than we did early on,” Lacey said. “In the first half, we messed up on our defensive schemes and left them wide open for 3-point shots.”

The Sky converted on 5-of-8 from 3-point range, to the Mystics’ 2-for-12 showing. Lacey stated that one of her offseason goals was to add a couple of players who could connect from long range.

But the Mystics have a long way to go to integrate so many new players into a cohesive unit.

“It was particularly disappointing to play so much better against Connecticut in an exhibition game, so I was not anticipating us coming out and putting forth this kind of an effort,” Lacey said. “We have to become more disciplined mentally to become a good team — and a winning team.”



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