WASHINGTON — The revamped Washington Mystics are hoping to take some of the scoring burden off Alana Beard this season.
That doesn't mean their leading scorer four years running won't take over games when she can.
Beard scored 16 of her 27 points in the third quarter after Washington's reserves sparked a big run in the second quarter and the Mystics won their home opener 77-71 against the Atlanta Dream on Sunday.
Matee Ajavon added 10 points as the Mystics (2-0) opened the season with consecutive wins for the first time in franchise history.
"We have options and we have defense," said Beard, who had five steals and hit 11-of-13 from the foul line. "We have a system. Everyone believes in that system and it shows."
Former Mystics player Coco Miller scored 17 points and fellow reserve Sancho Lyttle added 13 points for the Dream (1-1), who committed 25 turnovers against the Mystics defensive intensity. Chamique Holdsclaw scored 12 points and rookie Angel McCoughtry added 10 points.
Holdsclaw, who was selected by the Mystics with the No. 1 overall pick in the 1999 draft, became the ninth player in WNBA history to score 4,000 points when she made the second of two free throws 1:46 into the game.
Washington opened the game shooting 16.7 percent (3-for-18) and trailed by 14 points at the end of the first quarter before their reserves turned the game around on the strength of their long range shooting and defense.
"I thought we were a little passive in the beginning," Mystics first-year coach Julie Plank said. "We were more aggressive in our defense that second quarter. I thought we were really disruptive and that's our game."
Ajavon, Tasha Humphrey and Marissa Coleman each hit two 3-pointers in the second quarter and a 26-16 deficit turned into a 38-30 halftime lead.
Led by Beard, who is still working herself back into game shape after sitting out the entire preseason, the Mystics increased their lead to 18 points in the second half and kept a comfortable advantage much of the way.
The Dream never got closer than six in the closing minute.
"I knew we had to come up and we had to hit first," said Beard of her aggressive play after halftime. "I think everyone came in focused and it showed."
Coming off a taxing double overtime win on Saturday and combined with early foul trouble, the Dream squandered their early momentum, something Holdsclaw believes the young squad will have to work on.
"Just learning to go out there and when you get a lead to keep it and beat people down," Holdsclaw said.
The Dream dropped all three games to the Mystics in their inaugural season last year.