Postseason hopes weren’t on the table for either the Washington Mystics or the Connecticut Sun in their matchup to close the regular season last night. The Sun ended the Mystics regular season with a loss, resulting in a disappointed vibe that resonated from the stands to the locker room. However, any spectator in the building could determine the loss came down to the basics: turnovers and rebounding.
The first half was a showcase of both team’s inside game. The score remained close and consisted of multiple lead changes early in the first quarter. Both team’s guards fed the ball to their inside players or attacked the rim on most plays for a large chunk of the first half. In fact, there wasn’t a three pointer made or even attempted until very late in the half. Mystics forward Stefanie Dolson got out to a strong start scoring eight points in the first quarter. Her front court partner Emma Meeseman made her inside presence known as well as she tallied ten points of her own in the first half.
As the half came to an end, the Sun led the Mystics 41-39 before heading into the locker room. With minor adjustments to be made during halftime, things appeared to look bright for both teams at the start of the second half.
The Mystics continued to feed the ball on the low or high post to forwards Emma Meeseman and Stefanie Dolson who did much of the scoring during the second half. The Sun ran their offense through former George Washington star Jonquel Jones who ended the night with 21 points and 7 rebounds in front of her former teammates and family.
Despite the Sun’s offensive rebounding advantage over the Mystics, the score still remained close as the Sun only led the Mystics by a score of 71-68. However, Connecticut became the “Blue Collar” team by out rebounding Washington and forcing turnovers giving them the scoring advantage. The chance to regain the lead began to get farther and farther out of reach for the Mystics as the Sun went on a 10-0 run to extend the lead to 11 in the fourth quarter.
The home team showed signs of one last burst of momentum, but time wasn’t on the home team’s side. The Sun defeated the Mystics by a score of 87-78. “It hurts because we know we can do so much more, but we have so much to work on this off season and I’m excited to see what we can come back and do next year” stated Mystics forward Emma Meeseman. Meeseman, who was recently named the league’s best three point shooter, ended the night with 18 points and 10 rebounds.
Both the Mystics and the Sun will head into offseason looking to improve and better their chances next season. This was the first time in the last four yeras that the Mystics didn’t reach the postseason.
Despite the “step back,” Washington has plenty of things to look forward to. The Mystics look forward to the return of a healthy Ivory Latta and they can also expect guard Bria Hartley to return. Meeseman,Cooper, Tayler Hill, Tierra Ruffin-Pratt and Dolson should continue to develop as well. Washington is also armed with a top five pick and Coach Thibault made it clear that the player they select will have to be ready to contribute immediately. While it was definitely a year in which the team regressed, there’s nothing saying that they can’t take two steps forward and return to the postseason next year.