The defending champion Phoenix Mercury came into town after winning an exciting game in Connecticut the night before and left empty handed as the Mystics held on to win 71-63. The Mystics played a great game on both ends of the floor and Ivory Latta came off the bench with a season high 24 points.
The game started off physical as two fouls were committed under the first minute of play. The Mystics started off with great defense as they jumped out to an early 10-4 lead, fueled by good ball pressure. Although Latta had 12 of her 24 points in the first quarter, the Mercury kept it close with Leilani Mitchell and Noel Quinn combining for 10 of the Mercury’s 19 points.
In the second quarter, the Mystics continued to play great defense as Brittney Griner finished the half with four points. Bria Hartley showed flashes of her play last season as she scored five points with ease. After an official’s timeout with 2:55 left in the half, Washington led 33-32. They caught fire by scoring on three consecutive possessions. Mitchell kept her cool as she led the Mercury to within four before the half by going on a personal 5-0 run.
The second half began with sloppy play for both teams until Brittney Griner dunked to pull the Mercury within one (43-42) with 7:26 to go in the third. Both teams continued with physical play as the Mystics went on a 10-4 run. The highlight of that run was a sloppy offensive possession ending with an off-balance buzzer beating three pointer by Latta. The Mercury however, would not go away thanks in large part to Leilani Mitchell who always seemed to respond to a Washington run. The Mystics maintained the lead with two free throws from Natasha Cloud to go into the fourth and final period leading 55-53.
The fourth quarter was textbook basketball as the Mystics held the Mercury to only 10 points in the quarter including no points in the final two minutes. Griner could not lead the resurgence due to foul trouble and great team ball by the Mystics.
With the final score of 71-63, the unsung heroes of the game go to Stefanie Dolson and Tierra Ruffin-Pratt. Dolson had 10 points and 3 rebounds but she limited Griner to 12 points, 9 rebounds and 5 fouls. TRP also did well with 6 points, 2 rebounds, 2 assists and 2 steals as she limited the explosive DeWanna Bonner to 10 points.
As the Mystics get ready to take a week long west coast road trip, this win can give this young team some confidence to exceed league expectations for the rest of the season. While also moving them up in the playoff race in the East, remember, the Conference leading Liberty are only three games ahead of the Mystics who hold the fourth and final playoff spot.