WNBA: Washington Overcomes Health Issues

By Mel Greenberg

WASHINGTON – While Congress continues to debate health care nearby on Capitol Hill, there was nothing debatable about the way the Washington Mystics took care of its own health issues Thursday night in enhancing their WNBA playoff hopes with a 78-67 win over the Seattle Storm at the Verizon Center.

The Mystics’ core of mostly former Atlantic Coast Conference All-Stars shook off the absence of former Duke sensation Alana Beard to prevail in the fourth quarter, breaking from a 57-57 tie down the stretch.
Although Storm center Lauren Jackson, a two-time WNBA MVP honoree who is out with a stress fracture, Washington was still an underdog going into the game, making the outcome huge for the Mystics.
 The win put Washington into third place at 15-15 a half-game ahead of Detroit and a full game in front of Chicago, who the Mystics visit Friday night.
 Monique Currie, another former Blue Devils mainstay, had 17 points, including a key three-pointer that helped Washington pull away in the only WNBA game of the night.
Willingboro’s Crystal Langhorne, a second-year pro out of nearby Maryland, had 12 points and 11 rebounds, helping the Mystics dominate the boards at the finish. Rookie Marissa Coleman, another former Terrapins star, had 14 points off the bench, while Nakia Sanford had 10 points.
“I’m just glad we won,” Langhorne said. “It was tough without Alana, but we won.”
Matee Ajavon, the second-year pro who was picked up in the dispersal draft after Houston folded over the winter, made it a noteworthy night for the Rutgers alums, scoring 16 points while helping to guide the offense.
She also aided former Scarlet Knights teammate Cappie Pondexter, because the Seattle loss increased Pondexter’s Phoenix Mercury to a two-game lead in the West with two remaining. Although the loss clinched a numerical tie for Phoenix, the Mercury and Seattle will meet again, which could determine the top seed.
Former Connecticut star Sue Bird matched Currie’s total for game honors at 17. Former Penn State star Tanisha Wright scored 13, while former UConn star Swin Cash had 12 points.
Langhorne bragged about the statement Washington is making for the ACC.
“It’s great for the ACC to have a starting five from the conference,” Langhorne said of the normal lineup that includes Beard, former Duke star Lindsey Harding, and former North Carolina State star Chasity Melvin.
Coleman jested a little, however, about the ability of Duke and Maryland blood to mix.
“It’s been a lot of fun playing with players I played with and against in college, as well as USA Basketball. Who would have thought that the Dukes and the Terps would work out so well, playing together,” Coleman smiled.
Currie, however, noted with another smile,” I don’t know how well it would work with Carolina.”
The Playoff Race Continues
A steal by Washington over Seattle in the lone game Thursday night helps the Mystics. Meanwhile, to self-correct the Guru, Indiana has already clinched the top seed in the East but not the outright title.


 Eastern Group:

Atlanta: Road (3): at Sacramento - Sept. 4; at Phoenix - Sept. 5; at Washington - Sept. 12.

Home (1) Connecticut- Sept. 11.

Washington: Road (3) at Chicago - Sept. 4; at Indiana - Sept. 5; at New York - Sept. 13.

Home (1) Atlanta - Sept. 12.

Chicago: Road (1) ar Detroit - Sept. 6.

Home (3) Washington - Sept. 4; Indiana - Sept. 10; Detroit - Sept. 12.

Connecticut: Road (1) at Atlanta, Sept. 11.

Home (2) New York - Sept. 4; Indiana - Sept. 13.

Detroit: Road (2) at Minnesota - Sept. 9; at Chicago - Sept. 12

Home (3) Indiana - Sept. 4; Chicago - Sept. 6; New York - Sept. 10.

New York: Road (2) at Connecticut - Sept. 4; at Detroit - Sept. 10.

Home (2) Indiana - Sept. 8; Washington - Sept. 13.

Summary: New York is closer to the draft lottery because the Liberty needs three teams in front to all slide, which mathematically can't happen bcause they meet each other toward the finish.

Here are best-case scenaio forecasts without regard to upsets. Wild card will be how Indiana finishes out. Also, remember that while each is looked at as team's best hope, those that success will be costly to others' best hopes.

Atlanta: 1-3 The Dream reduced one anticipated loss and easily could to 2-2 while 3-1 is not out of the question.

Washington: 3-1 but could easily be forecasted anywhere from 2-2 to 1-3.

Chicago: 0-4 but could steal here and there and get to 2-2. Definitely must beat Washington Friday night for a firmer grip.

Connecticut: lost a forecasted win and now could be either 2-1 or 1-2 with help needed. Being right behind a bunched ground of Washington, Detroit, and Chicago, the Sun may have to go 3-0 because Detroit does not appear likely to take a deep slide and Connecticut needs to minimize tie-breakers for the last spot.

Detroit: 4-1 picked up a steal from a projected loss but could also fall to 3-2 or 2-3.

New York: 0-4 but a a few steals could mean 2-2, which doesn't appear good enough when looking at the probables in front of the Liberty.

Western Group (and remember we're talking about qualifying, not placement):

Minnesota: Road (2) at Los Angeles - Sept. 11; at Sacramento - Sept. 13.

Home: (2) Seattle - Sept. 5; Detroit - Sept. 9.

San Antonio: Road (2) at Los Angeles - Sept. 8; at Sacramento - Sept. 10.

Home (2) Los Angeles - Sept. 5; Seattle - Sept. 12.

Sacramento: Road (0)

Home (3) Atlanta - Sept. 4; Sacramento - Sept. 10; Minnesota - Sept. 13.

Summary: It's still wild with long odds on Sacramento despite beating Connecticut.

Minnesota: 1-3 but could lose all 4. The Lynx really needed to beat San Antonio.

San Antonio: 3-1 is not out of question but more likely 2-2 although nothing is a lock in projected wins.

Sacramento: 1-2 but could go 2-1. However, won't be good enough to pass two teams in front.

-- Mel