Mystics end Storm's 6-game win streak, 78-67Sep 4, 2009 - 2:41 AM WASHINGTON(AP) -- Monique Currie scored a season-high 17 points, Matee Ajavon had 16 in her first start of the season and the Washington Mystics continued their playoff push with a 78-67 victory over the Seattle Storm on Thursday night.
Crystal Langhorne had 12 points and 11 rebounds and Marissa Coleman scored 14 points for the Mystics (15-15), who won their second straight and inched into third place in the tightly contested Eastern Conference.
"We needed this game more than they did," Currie said of the win over the playoff-bound Storm. "We took it and I think we are all very proud."
Currie scored 10 points as Washington pulled away with a dominant fourth quarter. Ajavon started in place of All-Star guard Alana Beard, who missed her first game of the season after spraining her left ankle late in the win against Minnesota on Sunday.
Sue Bird scored 17 points and Tanisha Wright had 13 for the Storm (19-12), who played without Lauren Jackson for the third straight game and had their season-high six-game winning streak end.
Swin Cash added 12 points for Seattle, which dropped two games behind first-place Phoenix in the Western Conference.
"We are in the playoffs, but we still don't have a specific spot sewed up yet," Seattle coach Brian Agler said. "There is still a chance we can win the conference, but at the same time we want to make sure we have home-court advantage in the first round."
Tied at 57 early in the fourth quarter, Currie hit two free throws to give Washington the lead for good. With 4:50 remaining and the Mystics up 63-61, Ajavon hit a 17-foot jump shot and after a Seattle free throw, Currie made a 3-pointer to extend the lead as Washington outscored the Storm 23-14 in the final quarter.
"There were two possessions in a row where they took the lead from two to (six) and we never recovered," said Bird, who added six assists and four steals. "Basketball is a funny game like that. You play 40 minutes and it can be a 30 seconds span that kills you."
Currie entered the game averaging a career-low 7.8 points and scored only three points in the Mystics win on Sunday. However, with the team short-handed, she attacked the basket against the Storm and it paid off down the stretch.
"I just had to be aggressive," Currie said. "(Coach Julie Plank) has a lot faith in me. She is always encouraging me to be aggressive and I knew I needed to step up, especially with Alana's absence."
Ajavon, who was starting only the third game of her two-year WNBA career, overcame pregame jitters with an aggressive nine points in the first quarter.
"I think I was a little nervous in the beginning, prior to getting on the court", said Ajavon, who also five turnovers to go along with four assists and two 3-pointers. "I just told myself to play aggressively and stay within the team concept and I'll be fine."
Nakia Sanford had 10 points to give the Mystics five double-digit scorers and Coleman was perfect on three 3-point attempts.
With the win and only four games remaining on their schedule, the Mystics are one of five teams separated by 2 1/2 games and playing for three spots behind top-seeded Indiana. Washington is one game behind second-place Atlanta, and leads fourth-place Detroit by a half-game. Chicago is one-half game behind the Shock, with Connecticut another half-game back.
Jackson, Seattle's leading scorer and rebounder, is sidelined with a stress fracture in her back. She did not travel with the team on its three-game trip that ends Saturday in Minnesota, and there is no timetable for her return.
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