One down, 10 to go. In the last Mystics article on this site, one of the main points were that Washington had to finish the season strong and had eleven games to do so. The Mystics did just that as they beat the Connecticut Sun 89-75 yesterday, All-Star Guard Ivory Latta had a lot to do with how they finished the game. Washington spoke about being battle tested after their last five game road trip in the locker room afterwards, Monique Currie stated that “every game from here on out is a playoff game.” The Mystics will face the Sun twice in the last 10 games, both games will be played on the road. The win gave the Mystics an additional game lead over the Sun, with Connecticut being an Eastern Conference team, the win just gets better.
While Latta played a big role in closing the door on the Suns in the fourth quarter, Monique Currie deserves credit for the start of the game. “Mo” came out extremely aggressive, scoring eight of Washington’s first nine points. If it weren’t for Connecticut’s Alex Bentley, Washington may have run away with the game in the first quarter. Similar to Currie(17 points), Bentley shouldered the load offensively early on for her team. The first quarter ended with the Sun down just one, as great of a start as Currie was on, she got injured and had to go to the locker room.
The second and third periods were played very evenly, as several players on both teams started to impact the game. Kelsey Bone was the first Sun player to get going that wasn’t named Bentley, her contributions were crucial as star rookie Chiney Ogwumike got off to a very slow start. Both Bentley and Bone finished the game with 15 points a piece. As for Ogwumike, she got going in late in the second quarter and it all started with an offensive rebound. From then on, she regained her form and finished the game with 18 points and 10 rebounds with seven of the 10 coming on the offensive end. That is how the Sun stayed in the game, they had multiple possessions in which they earned a new shot clock.
Heading into the fourth and final quarter, the score was tied. A position the Washington Mystics have become all too familiar with, only this time was different. Instead of the typical see-saw action that has transpired in many games this season, the Mystics showed something they’ve rarely shown all year…a killer instinct. It all started on the defensive end, Coach Thibault had made a decision to go with the paring of Emma Meesseman and Stefanie Dolson up front late in the third quarter. His decision to let them play it out payed off greatly, the pair displayed great chemistry on both ends of the floor. Their defensive rotations were very crisp, they both hit the glass hard and on the offensive end, they never go in each other’s way. There were several possessions in which they operated the hi-low game very very well. It was more than just the bigs, as Currie finished the game with two steals and a few deflections. The Mystics were keeping the Sun out of the paint, while closing out on all of the shooters.
The uptick in defensive intensity was evident as it resulted in several transition opportunities, the Mystics would outscore Connecticut 30-16 in the final quarter. Ivory took it slow at the All-Star game over the weekend, she appeared to have saved it all for the home stretch of the regular season. She started the game slow, running the offense and getting teammates involved. That distributor role was put aside late in the game as she chose to be a closer. It was mostly off of a two man game, she was operating off of high screens by Dolson. If the defenders went over, she found Stef for a jump shot or a layup. If the defenders went under the screen, she made them pay by hitting the three. She finished the game with 23 points and 6 assists, going five of seven from downtown. Meesseman didn’t score a ton this game, but she contributed in many ways. Anytime a big has five assists, the ball is moving well on offense, she also finished with three steals. Bentley and Ogwumike hit a couple of baskets to keep their team in it early in the quarter, but there was nothing they could do as Washington looked as impressive as they had all season in that fourth quarter. The Mystics have two more games at home before going back on the road, they host Tulsa on Friday night.
- Meesseman & Dolson is probably the best paring of bigs, they just fit well on both ends of the floor
- Currie’s aggressiveness on the offensive end puts opponents off balance
- Latta being aggressive in closing out games. This could really change things going forward, offense looked good
- Dolson, Hartley, Hawkins all gave great minutes. All of the youngsters looked comfortable and assertive
- The Mystics look different on both sides of the ball
- Bria Hartley & TRP hounded Katie Douglas into a 3-10 night from the floor