After a four game losing streak on their latest road trip, the Mystics bounced back in an overtime thriller to clinch their third consecutive playoff berth. Ivory Latta led the Mystics with 25 points in the 76-72 victory. It was by far their most physical win against an Indiana Fever team who consistently gives them nothing but fits and heartache, Indiana ended Washington’s trip to the postseason last year.
This game started off with good defense and a ton of turnovers for both teams as the score was tied at two after three minutes passed in the first quarter. Both teams were going back and forth as the quarter ended 17-16 in Washington’s favor. What was clear in the first quarter was the physicality and intensity in which the game would be played. There were 10 total fouls and 16 turnovers from mostly good defense.
In the second quarter, the Mystics started with a 9-2 run led by Latta and Tayler Hill. The Fever however, wouldn’t go away and would cut the lead to three (33-30) with scoring from veterans Marissa Coleman and Tamika Catchings. The physical play continued as Stefanie Dolson was charged with a flagrant foul with 27.2 seconds remaining in the half. Washington held a 38-35 lead heading into the break.
In the third quarter, the Fever went on a 16-2 run and seized control of the game. Last year’s team may have hung there heads, but instead the Mystics showed toughness as they closed the gap to just five with 1:42 left in the period. Both teams would trade baskets for the remainder of the quarter, but the Fever would get the last shot of the quarter. It ended with a buzzer beater from Catchings to put the Fever up 56-51 going into the fourth and final period.
The Fever scored the quarter’s first seven points as they were in position to put the game away. In past contests between the two teams, Indiana would lean on their experience and pedigree to separate from Washington. It would be different this time, the Mystics showed how much they wanted it, being the win and to punch their ticket to the postseason. Washington would settle down, resulting in a string of good offensive possessions. Coupled with their strong defense, they held the Indiana to four points in the final 7:42 minutes of regulation.
The fourth was the definition of playoff basketball as the referees let them play. In clutch moments, Ivory always shows up and with 1:10 left in the game, she hit the go ahead floater. Indy’s Layshia Clarendon tied the game at 66 on the ensuing possession. Washington’ would get a couple of chances to win it at the end, but Latta’s floater missed as the buzzer sounded.
Free basketball or overtime as some call it. The Fever once again began the extra period by scoring the first four points. The Mystics did not give up as LaToya Sanders and Hill kept the Mystics in the game. With 49 seconds left in the game, Sanders gave the Mystics the lead with a put back layup. Washington had just enough energy to hold off the Fever with back to back strong defensive possessions. The young Mystics would hold on for the 76-72 victory. This win not only got them in the playoffs but it gives this team confidence to close out any team in the league.