7:00 PM ET, June 13, 2007
WASHINGTON (AP) -- Alana Beard sat at her locker, connected by tubes to a huge machine that looked more suited for a hospital emergency room. Her left shoulder was receiving electrical stimulation to ease the swelling, stiffness and pain she has after every game.So, how did she feel?"Every positive adjective that you can possibly think of is the best adjective to explain the way that I'm feeling right now, the way that the team is feeling," the Washington Mystics guard said. "It feels good considering the slump that we were in. We were setting records on the losing side, and you don't want to do that."The Mystics are no longer winless. Beard scored 17 of her 19 points in the second half, Monique Currie scored a career-high 25 points, and interim coach Tree Rollins got his first WNBA victory in Washington's 86-69 victory over the Phoenix Mercury on Wednesday night."It was a weight off our shoulders," said Rollins, who had been 0-4 since Richie Adubato abruptly quit two weeks ago. "As an organization, as a team, as a staff, the weight is off."The Mystics (1-8) ended the second worst start in WNBA history, trailing only the 0-13 mark of the 2002 Detroit Shock. The tumultuous start was exacerbated by the resignation of Adubato, who wasn't happy about his contract situation or with the trade that sent center Chasity Melvin to Chicago in exchange for Currie.Currie began paying dividends Wednesday with a solid first half in which she scored 16 points and finally looked comfortable with her new team."It's a really big confidence booster," Currie said. "I haven't been playing like I would have liked to since I got here."Beard, who strained her shoulder playing with the U.S. national team during the offseason, started 0-for-6 in her first attempt to play on consecutive nights since her injury. But her two 3-pointers keyed the 18-2 fourth-quarter run that blew the game open."I was aching," she said. "I was just trying to make it through the game. My body wasn't reacting too good. Basically I sucked it up and knew that we needed this game."The mid-mannered Rollins, who had been one of Adubato's assistants, had his only previous wins as a head coach during a stint with the Greenville Groove of the NBA's development league. By contrast, Mercury coach Paul Westhead has won 493 games as a head coach in the NBA, NCAA and WNBA."In the game, I don't think we've ever seen Tree get so fiery," Beard said. "He was mad at us. He was mad, but his mad is really calm."Diana Taurasi scored 28 points to lead the Mercury (6-5), who had won two straight. Taurasi was strong in the second half, going 6-for-7 from the field, but her team shot only 36 percent for the game."There is nothing positive to take from this game," Taurasi said. "When you're a team trying to contend for a title, you have to expect more."Mercury forward Penny Taylor left in the first half with an abdominal strain and did not return.