The Washington Mystics were happy to be home, after nine long days on the road, they couldn’t wait to see the Verizon Center. The road wasn’t kind to the Mystics as they lost four of the five games on the trip, they did finish the trip on a good note with a win over San Antonio. In order to get a second straight win, Washington had to face one of the hottest teams in the league. The Connecticut Sun came in to D.C. riding a six game win streak while boasting two of the better rookies from this year’s draft class in Chiney Ogwumike and Alyssa Thomas. The Mystics felt great about their last win and were focused on stringing together a few more in the coming days, it would have to start with a win over the Sun.
The Mystics got off to a great start, leading by 10 very early on the shoulders of second year forward Emma Meesseman. She posted her first career double-double earlier this season, the hot start led to another career night(24 points, 13 rebounds). Washington started the game shooting seven of eight from the floor, the offense looked great! The big lead didn’t last long as Alex Bentley got going to help the Sun close the gap. The once sharp Mystics offense came to a sputtering halt during the Connecticut run. A Katie Douglas three tied the game at 15, the next Sun basket put them up by two. With just 2.4 seconds left in the quarter, Ivory Latta buried a three at the horn to give the Mystics a 1 point lead.
The second quarter was very much like the first, both teams fighting for control of the game. The first half did provide an opportunity for a couple of familiar foes to do battle, Ogwumike and Stefanie Dolson. Before the game, Stefanie said that “they are friends off the court and hate each other on it,” those words rang true as soon as they were on the court at the same time. Chiney came into the game averaging 18 points and six rebounds, she finished with 10 points and five rebounds. Dolson had a huge impact off the bench, she finished eight points and seven rebounds. The end of the half was very interesting to say the least; after a blown out of bounds call led to a Katie Douglas three, Coach Thibault drew up a great inbounds play only for it to be whistled dead because one of the referees didn’t know that the in-bounder could run the baseline on the pass. After the play was stopped by the whistle, the Mystics had just 2 seconds to get a shot off from under their own basket. Another great play, led to a half-court attempt by Ivory Latta, she barely missed the three point bomb and Washington went into the half down by two.
The Mystics took over the game after the break, they owned Connecticut during the third quarter. Meeseeman finished the first half with just eight points, most of her damage was done after the break. She showed off great footwork and patience in the post, knocking down the jumper helped as well. She had a very efficient evening on the offensive end as she missed just three shots, connected on 11 of 14 on the night. Emma made it look too easy on the offensive end, she also got it done on the other end of the floor with a pair of blocks. Washington outscored Connecticut 23-10 in the quarter, giving them a double digit lead heading into the fourth and final period.
At the end of the first half, the Sun were shooting 46% from the floor as a team. The Mystics defense tightened up in that third quarter, bringing that number down to 39.1%. Both Thomas and Ogwumike had subpar evenings, Alyssa struggled the most. She finished the game with six points and eight rebounds, but shot just three of 10 from the floor. The Sun refused to go quietly, the backcourt duo of Douglas (18 points) and Bentley(11 points) not only kept them in the game, but cut the Mystics lead down to single digits several times in the quarter. Washington has been in that position several times this season, more often than not they would give up the lead only for a furious rally to fall short and lose a close game. That wasn’t the case last night, every time Connecticut cut the lead to single digits a Mystics player would respond with a basket.
It was the post players last night that responded to every call, Kia Vaughn didn’t have her normal night on the boards, but her 12 points were huge. It wasn’t the number of points scored, but when she scored them. Kia came up big in the fourth quarter, along with Meesseman’s big night the starting front court helped the Mystics beat the sun 69-63. Their impact on the game played a huge role on the glass, Washington beat Connecticut 38 to 25 on the boards. The trio of Vaughn, Meesseman and Dolson combined for 42 points and 22 rebounds last night. One player that didn’t stand out in the box score, but heavily impacted the game was Tierra Ruffin-Pratt. “TRP” provided great energy and defense in the 22 minutes she was out on the court, several times she kept offensive possessions alive with key rebounds, the guard finished the game with 6 rebounds. Her energy played just as big a role as Emma’s career night in points and rebounds, the Mystics hope to make it three in a row with a win over San Antonio tomorrow.
- Mystics offense looked great to start the game, they seem to have gelled over the road trip
- Rookies Bria Hartley & Stefanie Dolson seem much more comfortable with the WNBA game, Hartley
- Ivory Latta did a great job running the show, finished with 10 points and 7 assists
- Good win for the Mystics considering Hartley and Latta combined to shoot 2 of 12 from beyond the arc
- It seems that Vaughn’s and Dolson’s minutes are starting to even out. Kia with 22 min last night, Stef with 17
- Emma Meesseman is coming into her own, big year for the 2nd year player