for this game

Mystics-Sun Preview

Aug 8, 2009 - 4:28 PM By MIKE LIPKA STATS Writer

Washington (11-9) at Connecticut (10-10), 3:00 p.m. EDT

With Connecticut coming off its sixth straight playoff appearance and Washington trying to recover from a 10-24 season, the Mystics' road win over the Sun to open the year seemed like an upset at the time.

Instead, Washington remains in better position than the reeling Sun, who will try to reverse their slide when the Mystics visit Sunday for the first of two games between the teams in less than a week.

Washington (11-9) made a statement with its 82-70 win June 6, outrebounding the Sun 44-26 and holding them to 35.5 percent shooting. Guard Lindsey Harding scored 12 points and added seven assists in her Mystics debut.

"I think they wanted it more than we did," Sun guard Erin Phillips said after that contest.

Connecticut (10-10) now has a greater need for victories after dropping four of its last five. The club is hoping a return home will help after a 1-3 road trip that closed with Friday's 95-88 loss to Minnesota.

Much like they did against Washington, the Sun had major problems on the boards, getting outrebounded 45-27 by the Lynx.

"I think that's the biggest thing," Sun forward Asjha Jones said. "I think we played pretty well offensively."

Opponents are outrebounding Connecticut by an average of 3.3, the third-worst margin in the league. The Sun also were 12 of 22 from the free throw line against Minnesota, dropping them to 12th in the WNBA in that category (73.0 percent).

Those factors have contributed to the Sun's precarious position in the crowded Eastern Conference standings, where at least five teams are jockeying for the last three playoff spots.

The Mystics are in the best shape of those hopefuls, remaining in second place after beating Detroit 70-66 on Friday. They held the Shock to 10 fourth-quarter points, winning even though Alana Beard was the only Mystics starter to reach double figures in points.

With Harding serving as a complement to her former Duke teammate Beard, Washington has already exceeded its win total from last year, but the club has had trouble stringing together victories lately. Since starting the season 3-0, the Mystics have won back-to-back games only once.

Getting off to a good start figures to be key. Washington outscored Detroit 23-14 in the second quarter to take an eight-point halftime lead, then moved to 10-1 when they're ahead at the half.

In their previous visit to Connecticut, the Mystics led 40-28 at the break before cruising.

The teams close their season series at Washington on Friday.