WASHINGTON -- The Washington Mystics are not content with moving into a tie for first place in the Eastern Conference.
Crystal Langhorne had 24 points and 15 rebounds and the Mystics earned an 82-72 win over the Atlanta Dream on Wednesday.
Matee Ajavon scored 15 points and Chasity Melvin added 12 points as the Mystics (13-7) took the lead less than three minutes into the game and then used second- and third-quarter runs to extend their lead to 19 points.
With the win, Washington snapped a two-game losing streak and jumped a half-game ahead of Atlanta in the East. The Mystics and Indiana Fever lead the conference.
"It sounds really nice," Langhorne said about the Mystics' spot in the standings. "The standings are so close that you lose three games you could be at the bottom in the East."
The last time the Mystics had or shared first place this late in the season was on July 30, 2002, when their 15-10 record matched the New York Liberty, but they lost their next game.
"I'm sure for the organization they are happy, but for us, we haven't done anything yet," Katie Smith said. "That's the bottom line. Best record doesn't mean a whole lot if you get into the playoffs and don't handle your business. ... I'm still hungry and I hope everybody else is no matter what we are doing right now."
The Dream (14-9) trailed 56-37 with 3:20 remaining in the third quarter, but they opened the fourth quarter on a 7-0 run, capped by Angel McCoughtry's three-pointer with 8:53 remaining to pull within seven at 62-55.
However, they would not get any closer en route to losing their fourth straight game, all on the road, falling from first to third place in the East.
"Every game is like a playoff game in the Eastern Conference," Dream coach Marynell Meadors said. "The next game is more important than the last one you played. I thought today Washington really wanted it a lot more than we did and played harder than we did."
McCoughtry finished with 23 points and Iziane Castro Marques scored 17 points. Erika DeSouza added 11 points.
With Langhorne the only Mystics starter to reach double figures, the Mystics turned to their reserves and led by Ajavon and Melvin, they held a 36-10 edge in bench scoring.
"We're experienced and Matee and I are confident in what we can do," Melvin said. "To be able to come into a tough game, it relieves pressure off the starters. Crystal has been playing really well for us, but she is going to need some help ... we came through today."
Langhorne got off to a fast start against the Dream. She scored 14 points early on 7-of-10 shooting, and the Mystics closed the second quarter on a 12-4 run to lead 41-29 at the half.
With a double-digit lead midway through the third quarter, Washington increased its advantage to 19 as Langhorne started a 9-0 run with a layup and a putback.
"We knew going in she was a great offensive rebounder," Meadors said. "She got 15 [total rebounds]. I think 24 points, a lot of hers were off second-chance points. You got to keep her off the boards. She's a great player. I think everybody overlooks that fact that she is so good."
The Dream struggled early, missing 10 of their first 11 shots, in part due to the Mystics defense. That effort, combined with Langhorne making all three of her interior shots, gave the Mystics a 21-16 lead after one.
"[The Dream] are a really great offensive team," said Langhorne, who has nine double-doubles this season. "They have a lot of people scoring. We just wanted to slow them down, get some things on defense to get us going offensively."
- Sue Blauch
- Daryl Humphrey
- Jeff Smith