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Sky Falls To Mystics
Washington, D.C.–Alana Beard scored a game high 26 points and pulled down 6 rebounds as the Washington Mystics defeated the visiting Chicago Sky, including former Mystic Stacey Dales, by a score of 92-74 on Thursday night. The Sky, an expansion team, dropped to 4-22 on the season, while the Mystics pulled even at 13-13, and remain in fourth place in the Eastern Conference, and in line for a playoff spot.
“It’s always a good feeling when you can still have post season play,” said forward Delisha Milton Jones.
“We hit a rough spot on the road and we lost three games in a row. Tonight was a big game for us and we really needed this win. Not just for the sake of the standings, but for the sake of our morale. We came out and we had a great effort defensively from the entire team. That is really what made us able to score over 80 points and win convincingly. Coach Tree (Rollins) tells us that we have to get in playoff mode right now, not wait until the playoffs come. We have to prepare ourselves now so that when the playoffs do come, we won’t miss a beat. That’s the main reason why everyone is so hungry and so passionate while they’re out there on the court, to make the game as easy as it possibly can be for us to win,” added Milton-Jones.
Dales, who was signed by the Chicago Sky after coming out of retirement, admitted to being unaccustomed to playing on a losing team.
“You can’t trade baskets when you’re down ten points”, said Dales.
“You’ve got to get stops and create things and close that gap. Unfortunately, we couldn’t do that. This is a very good Washington team. This is a team that’s playoff caliber and they have a lot of weapons coming off the bench. It’s not easy to lose. It’s frustrating to lose; I’m not going to lie. But you have to look at the good things that you did and try to fix the bad things. There are no excuses. I thought we played hard tonight. We were outplayed, I guess,” added Dales.
The Mystics have seven games remaining, including two very tough opponents in the Indiana Fever and the Los Angeles Sparks. Despite the Sky’s record, the Mystics players stressed the importance of this win, coming on the heels of two tough losses against Seattle and Connecticut.
“The way we’ve been playing lately, we haven’t been consistent all the way throughout games, so we were just trying to finish the game tonight. We just want to start our home court winning streak again. Tonight, we didn’t want to let the game slip away, because WNBA teams can easily get back into the game,” said center Chastity Melvin.
“Tonight, we felt like the team we were at the beginning of June”, said guard Alana Beard.
“Chicago, if you look at their games, they’ve lost by five and six points. They’ve been in games until the end. They just don’t know how to finish because they’re a new team. They don’t have their continuity together like most teams do. But it feels good to get this win. It can hopefully get our confidence up. We take it one game at a time, but it’s not too soon to think about the playoffs. We were thinking about that at the very beginning,” added Beard.
The win by the Mystics wasn’t the only reason the announced crowd of 9,290 had to celebrate. R&B singer Lyfe Jennings performed during halftime, and country singer Wynonna Judd performed a concert after the game. Judd’s sister, actress Ashley Judd sat at courtside for most of the game, and spent some time in the owner’s suite with Mystics President Sheila Johnson. The Judd’s are active in the YouthAIDS Foundation, with Ashley serving as the YouthAIDS Global Ambassador, and Wynonna serving as the YouthAIDS U.S. Ambassador.
D.C. Mayor Anthony Williams proclaimed July 27th as YouthAIDS day in Washington. Prior to the game, a forum was hosted at Verizon Center which brought together hundreds of area youth to talk about the problems of HIV/AIDS with well-known AIDS experts Dr. Mark Dybul and Marsha Martin.
“The Washington Mystics Foundation is thrilled to be able to bring together such a diverse panel of experts and artists to encourage dialogue with D.C. teens about HIV/AIDS,” said Johnson in a prepared statement.
After the game, Ashley Judd, well known to be a big basketball fan, interviewed Alana Beard at center court, keeping the crowd laughing and well entertained until Wynonna’s band took the stage, where they performed to an enthusiastic crowd of both basketball and music fans.