The Washington Mystics are in an interesting place right now, after last night’s win they have won three games in a row. Washington beat Tulsa 82-77 to continue their march towards a second consecutive playoff berth. In regards to that “place” they find themselves in, they are truly in the phase where teams learn what it takes to “win”. The Mystics have taken advantage of their current home-stand, they are 2-0 with just one game remaining against Atlanta on Sunday afternoon. After an impressive win against an Eastern Conference Playoff team, they struggled to keep focused and had to eek out a tough victory over a team that is far out of Playoff Contention. What is most important was the result, a third consecutive win as the Mystics play out the remainder of their regular season schedule, just nine games to go!
The Mystics got off to hot start in front of their home crowd, specifically All-Star Guard Ivory Latta. She scored eight of Washington’s first 14 points, last game it was Monique Currie that came out and paced the Mystics early on. Skylar Diggins had a rough start to the night as Bria Hartley was able to bother her early on with great on-ball defense. Washington appeared to start gaining some separation on Tulsa, but a few sloppy offensive possessions ignited a Shock run. Diggins was able to get it going, mostly in transition opportunities. Washington led by just six after the first period. Both teams were shooting well as neither succeeded in slowing down the other, Washington shot 52.6 % from the floor and Tulsa shot 45.5 %.
Tulsa’s Jordan Hooper had a knack for hitting timely three pointers, one of which cut the Mystics lead to just three early in the second quarter. Washington would respond by going on a run, the type of run that can blow a game wide open. Tierra Ruffin-Pratt ignited the run with a strong drive to the basket, then Bria found Kara Lawson off of a curl for a midrange jump shot. A block by Stefanie Dolson led to a Latta three off of a Hartley feed. Then Bria got involved herself by finishing an extremely tough drive with a layup, all of a sudden the Mystics found themselves up by 15 points. Washington had Tulsa on the ropes, they just had to deliver the knock-out blow. It never came as Tulsa went into the half down 12, Washington’s inability to put the young Shock team away would bite them later on.
The hot shooting by both teams cooled off drastically heading into the third quarter, with Tulsa shooting just 38.8% and Washington at 44.4%. Jenifer Lacey only had one basket on the evening, it was a huge basket as she hit a three pointer that cut the Mystics lead to just six points. Ivory responded with a three of her own to push the lead to nine for Washington. The All-Star almost got the Verizon Center to blow it’s roof off with a sensational crossover. After using a pick, a Tulsa big switched over to Ivory. She rejected the screen from Dolson, proceeding to take advantage of the mismatch. She put a heck of a move on the Tulsa defender before firing a beautiful bounce pass to Tianna Hawkins, who would have hit the layup of she wasn’t fouled. The Mystics pushed their lead back to 13 before Hooper struck again for the Shock, she drilled another shot from beyond the arc which prompted Ivory to answer with a triple. Tulsa refused to go away, the youngsters kept fighting and cut the lead to single digits before the start of the fourth period.
While the Shock deserve plenty of credit for continuing to play hard throughout the game, the Mystics definitely contributed to their own demise. Unforced turnovers and overall sloppy play led to a Tulsa run. The Shock were led by Odyssey Sims and Skylar Diggins, both of which fought through a tough performance. Amidst their turnovers and poor decisions, they were able to play their team back into the game. Sims (14 points) and Diggins (19 points) just didn’t receive enough help, while Glory Johnson (15 points) and Courntey Paris (10 points, 16 rebounds) put up good numbers, they struggled shooting the basketball. Falling into a 15 point hole certainly didn’t help, the Shock cut the lead to three at one point and looked poised to take the lead. Only Monique Currie had other thoughts, “Mo” decided to take Ivory’s role from last game and close out Tulsa. She decided to be aggressive on the offensive end and made history in the process, scoring the most points in league history without connecting on a field goal. Currie went 0-3 from the floor and 0-2 from beyond the arc, all of her damage came from the charity stripe (16 of 18). Kia Vaughn didn’t have a great game or even normal game as far as her standards go, but she made a huge play down the stretch. After hitting two free throws, Kia made a huge block on the defensive end which resulted in free throws for Currie. The Mystics were ready to walk away with a win but Odyssey Sims hit a big time contested three pointer to cut the six point lead to three. Mo receives the ball on the ensuing inbounds play, gets fouled and calmly knocks down both shots. Hooper’s last second shot fell short and the Mystics made it three wins in a row. Currie (16) and Lata (17) combined for 33 points, the veterans played a huge role in this win. Their next game is Sunday against the Atlanta Dream.