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Recap: Mystics , Sparks
Date: July 17, 2011 8:30 PM EDT
  

LOS ANGELES (AP) - Matee Ajavon scored 27 points and the Washington Mystics overcame a 24-point deficit, completing the largest second-half comeback in WNBA history, with a 89-85 victory over the Los Angeles Sparks on Sunday.

The Mystics (3-10) trailed by as many as 24 points in the first half and were down by 14 heading into the fourth quarter before surging back. Washington scored the first five points of overtime to go ahead 82-77 on Marissa Coleman's layup.

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``The whole time, we were confident we could come back,' Ajavon said. ``And our coach is confident in us, and we have faith as well. We just fought the whole way through.'

Detroit owned the previous record, coming back from a 21-point deficit on two occasions. The Shock achieved the feat against Indiana on June 9, 2004 and versus Chicago on Sept. 12, 2009.

Crystal Langhorne finished with 24 points and 14 rebounds, and Coleman added 10 and nine boards for Washington, which snapped a five-game losing streak.

Washington was one point shy of matching the all-time WNBA comeback, set by Detroit against Los Angeles on June 26, 2005.

``With this team, I'm not surprised by anything,' Langhorne said. ``It just shows how much heart we have as a team. We're always gonna fight back.'

The Mystics, who scored 29 points in the fourth quarter to force overtime, went ahead for the first time since the opening quarter when Coleman's 3-pointer made it 73-70 with 1:40 remaining in regulation.

Kristi Toliver led the Sparks (6-7) with 21 points, while Jantel Lavender had 13.

Toliver's two free throws put the Sparks up 51-27 with 8:45 left in the third quarter, matching the game's largest lead and putting her squad in line for a third straight win. But Washington's 64 points on 58 percent shooting after halftime would erase the deficit completely.

``The second half, we started playing slower and they were really aggressive,' Toliver said. ``It's extremely disappointing for us to just give the game away like this.'

The Mystics used a 9-0 run early in the fourth to trim the lead to single-digits and followed with a spurt on 10 unanswered points minutes later to tie things up 70-70

Sparks guard Ticha Penicheiro stole the ball and made two free throws with 24 seconds to go for the 77-75 advantage. Ajavon then milked the clock and was fouled on a jumper with 3.4 seconds left. She hit both freebies to level the score again.

The Sparks had a chance to win it but Tina Thompson missed a driving layup before the horn sounded.

Coleman's 3-pointer in the extra session capped five straight points to put the Mystics up by five. The Sparks went scoreless the first 2:49 of overtime, eventually scoring on Toliver's layup to get within 82-79. But they would get no closer.

The loss was the Sparks' first in three games under Joe Bryant, who was promoted from assistant to head coach after the team fired Jennifer Gillom on July 10.

AP NEWS
The Associated Press News Service

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The Associated Press
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