- The Washington Times - Friday, September 14, 2012

For the first three and half quarters, it looked like the improbable just might happen. The Washington Mystics, sporting the league’s worst record and mired in a nine-game losing streak, were holding their own against Angel McCoughtry and the Atlanta Dream on Friday at Verizon Center.

Making this feat even more impressive is that they were doing it without their leading scorer Crystal Langhorne, who left the game in the first half with a strained left foot.

In the end, it was yet another round of miscues and mistakes that led to another late game collapse as the Mystics fell 82-74. It was their 10th straight defeat, the longest losing streak of the season.

Washington managed to close to gap as close as four points with less than a minute left in the game before the Dream pulled away, making the defeat reminiscent of so many others this season.

“We had a couple of defensive breakdowns there with [Dream forward Erika] DeSouza and then toward the end of the game we took some quick looks for three’s when we really didn’t need three’s,” said Mystics coach Trudi Lacey. “That decision, when we really needed two point baskets and a couple of stops kind of hurt us a little down the stretch.”

With Langhorne out, Monique Currie shouldered much of the load for the Mystics, leading the way with 20 points and six rebounds. Also in double figures for the Mystics were Matee Ajavon (15) and Jasmine Thomas (13). Langhorne was examined after the game and her status is unknown for the Mystics next game against the New York Liberty on Sunday.

“We’re looking for improvement, so this gives us an opportunity to use our bench and get playing time,” Lacey said. “Every day is a new opportunity to get better.”

The Dream were led by McCoughtry (26) and former Mystics point guard Lindsey Harding (19), who demanded a trade from Washington to Atlanta two seasons ago.

“Atlanta made some tough shots in the fourth quarter,” Currie said. “Angel [McCoughtry] took over a little bit. They hit some big shots and we didn’t.”

McCoughtry is one of the toughest players in the WNBA to guard, and Currie didn’t back down for a minute, even recording two technicals, and getting ejected with 19.9 seconds left in the game.

Playing against great players like Angel is a challenge,” Currie said. “She’s one of the best players in the world, and she leads the league in scoring, but you’re not about to come in here and just walk over me. I’m a competitor. Much respect to her, but I’m going to do my best to contain her.”

The Dream (18-14) have clinched a playoff spot, while the Mystics (5-26) are likely to finish season with the league’s worst record behind Phoenix (7-22) and Tulsa (6-23).

It’s been a year than no one on the Mystics roster predicted, but one they hope will provide them with a little bit more strength of character, and a serve as a learning experience.

“In order for us to win, we have to put our foot down and keep it down,” Ajavon said. “This season has been a little frustrating, but it has made us grow. We you go through hardships, it makes you want it that much more. You have to look toward the future.”

• Carla Peay can be reached at cpeay@washingtontimes.com.

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