Beard scores 31 to lead Mystics over Sky

WASHINGTON(AP) Alana Beard had 31 points and five assists to lead the Washington Mystics to an 81-72 victory over the Chicago Sky on Saturday night.

Crystal Langhorne had 14 points and six rebounds for the Mystics (4-1). Chasity Melvin added 12 points and nine rebounds.

"Crystal is probably our most consistent player,'' Mystics coach Julie Plank said. "I know what I'm getting day in and day out. There's no doubt what she's going to bring every day, both in the games and in practice. I can count on her; she's dependable. I give her a hard time and call her 'the perfect 10' because that's the way she plays and competes every day.''

Jia Perkins led the Sky (3-3) with 15 points, six rebounds and six assists. Kristi Toliver had 13 points and Candice Dupree added 12 points and six rebounds.

Beard scored 10 of the Mystics' first 12 points and added seven more in the fourth quarter.

"This was fun to see how our team showed a lot of character,'' Beard said. "We continued to stay poised, we got stops, and then, most importantly, we changed the tempo in the second half and that sort of created our win.''

Chicago missed eight straight shots and went 7:35 without a basket late in the fourth quarter.

Beard shot 11 of 18 from the field, including 2 of 5 from behind the arc, and 7 of 9 at the free-throw line.

Beard converted a layup off a steal, blocked a shot, and hit a jumper before her 3-pointer gave the Mystics a 67-65 lead with 5:27 remaining.

"I want to get everyone else involved,'' Beard said. "I know that I can score at any given point when I put my mind to it, but if you're out there by yourself, you're not going to win. I've had five years of experience like that, but I think I've grown a lot.

"I'm happy. I'm smiling. It feels good. I think I can go home and sleep very easy.''

The Sky got 17 second-quarter points from their bench and closed the period with a 16-1 run for a 39-29 halftime lead. Chicago had a 58-55 lead after three quarters.

"The third quarter hurt us a lot,'' Toliver said. "We didn't take care of the ball very well and we didn't have very good offensive execution. Alana just hurt us by getting to the basket. They had a lot of shots that fell for them, but defensively we just had a lot of breakdowns. They had 42 points in the paint so that's a big reason why that game went that way.''

Beard made her first three shots of the game and followed with a three-point play off a steal that gave the Mystics a 12-3 lead.

"She's a talent,'' Toliver said. "She's established herself in this league and today was no different. She has length, athleticism, and she did a terrific job of getting to the basket tonight. She kind of lulled us to sleep a little bit and then came back and was offensively explosive.''

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