A heroic fourth quarter effort from Atlanta crushed the Mystics’ dream of starting the season 3-0. Washington (2-1) had a 11 point lead going in the final quarter but could not hold on losing, to Atlanta (2-2), 64-61.
The offense went through Emma Meesseman early. She scored ten of the first twelve points for the Mystics. Despite Meesseman’s big quarter, Atlanta held off Washington early, taking a 17-14 lead after the opening period.
For the second consecutive game, she led the team in points, finishing with 21. Angel McCoughtry was equally as impressive as Meesseman early on, scoring 11 points in the first half. McCoughtry also finished with 21 points on 7/18 shooting.
Tayler Hill and Natasha Cloud came off the bench to key a 15-4 run in the second quarter to give Washington a 36-25 advantage late in the second quarter. Hill was unguardable in the first half, scoring 10 points on 2/4 shooting from beyond the arc.
She picked up where she left off after halftime, scoring five points in the third quarter helping Washington build a 49-38 lead going in the fourth. Hill finished with 15 points.
McCoughtry wouldn’t let Atlanta go down without a fight, her “and one” cut the Mystics lead down to five.
On the following possession, Shoni Schimmel found Aneika Hayes on the fastbreak to make it a one score game. Atlanta got the lead down to one point, but couldn’t take the lead until McCoughtry hit a three to give the Dream a 62-61 lead with 10 seconds left.
After a Washington turnover, McCoughtry went to the line and sunk both free throws. Ivory Latta missed what could’ve been a game tying three.
The Mystics will be back in action on Sunday at Madison Square Garden against the New York Liberty (3-1).
Troy’s three observations
1. Mystics are deep
First off, Bria Hartley and Tierra Ruffin-Pratt, two big pieces were out of today’s game and Washington was still able to go nine deep and not miss a beat. Coach Thibault can play mix and match as much as he wants this year.
2. Tayler Hill is the Mystics’ “X factor”
Speaking of the bench, Tayler Hill came of the bench and played 27 minutes, scoring 15 points on 12 shots. At one point, she had 11 points in 12 minutes. With a formidable starting lineup, Hill can be the boost off the bench that allows Washington to give veteran guards Kara Lawson and Ivory Latta extended rests.
3. Natasha Cloud doesn’t play like a rookie
The rookie guard logged a little over 30 minutes on Friday night, which was the second most only behind Meesseman and you could see why. She plays with a maturity beyond her years and is an excellent facilitator as a combo guard.