WASHINGTON (AP) - Tina Charles scored 20 points and grabbed 13 rebounds to lift the Connecticut Sun over the Washington Mystics 77-70 on Tuesday night.
The Sun (20-7) have beaten the Mystics (5-22) nine straight times, including all five matchups this season. Connecticut's victory on Tuesday was its narrowest in the streak.
``It was a hard game,' Sun coach Mike Thibault said. ``We kind of hung together when we had a bad start. We had a bad middle of the second half. We just kind of regrouped each time.'
Crystal Langhorne led the Mystics with 23 points on 10-of-14 shooting - her highest-scoring game since she scored 24 points against the New York Liberty on July 13 - and added nine rebounds. But Washington lost its season-worst sixth in a row.
Charles scored with 46 seconds left to give Connecticut a 73-70 lead and grabbed a defensive rebound on the ensuing Washington possession. Mystics guard Noelle Quinn answered with a steal, but Washington turned the ball over and began intentionally fouling.
``We've talked about it all week in terms of working on our poise and staying calm in crucial situations,' Mystics coach Trudi Lacey said. ``We just still need to make plays down the stretch to close out these games.'
Charles, who entered fourth in the WNBA in scoring, didn't record her first point until 30.6 seconds remained in the first quarter. That began a 13-0 run, and the Sun grabbed a lead they would hold until midway through the fourth.
``We're not one of those teams that's just trying to get it to Tina,' Charles said. ``Whoever has the hot hand.'
The Mystics - boosted by 10 points each from Quinn and Shannon Bobbitt - hung around for most of the game after leading 23-16 late in the first quarter. After Connecticut extended its lead to 13 points in the third, Washington used an 8-0 run to get within three points in the fourth.
Later in the quarter, Bobbitt hit a 3-pointer with the shot clock expiring. Matee Ajavon made shots on two consecutive possessions, including a 3-pointer, to give the Mystics a 67-66 lead.
Sun forward Mistie Mims returned after missing two games because of a strained quad and had 15 points, seven rebounds and four assists.
``I didn't really know what to expect,' Thibault said. ``I just know that we always get a great effort, so effort can make up for some rustiness.'
Kara Lawson added 16 points and four assists for Connecticut, which was without forward Asjha Jones for a ninth straight game because of a strained left Achilles tendon.
``I just would like her to get somewhere between two and four games in before the playoffs, so that she gets her rhythm back,' Thibault said of Jones. ``It's hard to come out and start a playoff series cold.'
The Associated Press News Service
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