63 - 75 Final
  for this game

Beard scores 26 to lead Mystics past Sparks

Jul 12, 2009 - 2:12 AM WASHINGTON(AP) -- Alana Beard scored 26 points and had four steals as the Washington Mystics closed the game on a 12-0 run after allowing a 24-point first-half lead slip away to defeat the Los Angeles Sparks 75-63 on Saturday night.

Chasity Melvin added 14 points for the Mystics (6-5), who started a season-high six-game homestand.

"I think for the past few games, I started the game trying to get everyone involved, but I think the team feeds off me, offensively and defensively," said Beard, who entered the game fourth in the WNBA in scoring and third in steals. "It's up to me to set the tone."

Shannon Bobbit and Betty Lennox each scored 10 points to lead the Sparks (4-7), who fell to 1-6 on the road this season.

Los Angeles was without All-Star Lisa Leslie for the sixth straight game. Candace Parker, playing in her third game after missing much of the season following childbirth, was held to two points.

The Mystics dominated early as Beard scored Washington's first 13 points and they raced out to an 18-2 lead. Defensively they were sharp as well, holding the Sparks to seven first-quarter points.

Washington, coming off a 1-3 road trip, led 34-10 in the second quarter, but Los Angeles chipped away at the lead and tied it at 63. Lindsey Harding's jumper with 3:08 remaining put the Mystics ahead for good and Melvin scored the next four points, and eight in the final quarter.

"The majority of the games that were really close, we have not come out on top," said Harding, who finished with 11 points. "To be able to win a close game (against) a team like that is really good."

Los Angeles missed 11 of its first 12 shots and scored only two points in the opening 8:25.

"We didn't start well and they were pretty much on fire," Sparks center Tina Thompson said.