Playoff implications were on the line for the 8th seed along with a two game winning streak, the Mystics came into the game confident to win the series against the Seattle Storm and control their playoff destiny.
As the game started, both teams had early chances at momentum. At 7:43 in the first period, the Storm jumped to an early 11-4 lead as the were 100% from the field which forced Washington to call an early timeout. The Mystics came back battled it out throughout the first quarter, closing the lead to three (23-20) to end the first quarter.
In the second quarter, the Mystics definitely controlled the tempo from beginning to end even though they were down two at the half. Their defense lead by Emma Messeman and Kahleah Copper forced four turnovers, the Storm to shoot 50% in the 2nd which was a 14% dropoff from the first. Tayler Hill hit two clutch threes towards the end of the quarter, The Mystics ball movement was good as the quarter went along and it seemed as though this was the perfect setup for the Mystics to seize the moment and capture the game.
Washington used 16-2 run to take a lead over the visiting Storm. Everything was going right as the Mystics were forcing more Storm turnovers, Breanna Stewart missed both free throws as her team was going through a dry spell. After the Storm took a timeout with 4:54 to go, Ramu Tokashiki and veteran Sue Bird started the comeback and Breanna Stewart took it upon herself to take it another level by scoring 10 of her 17 points after the timeout and get the lead back for her team.
Seattle rallied from a 12 point deficit, then continued their turnaround in the final period with four quick points from Tokashiki in the first 90 seconds of the quarter causing a frustration timeout from Washington. Tokashiki proved to be the spark for the Storm as she scored 7 of her 13 points in the quarter. Mystics guard Natasha Cloud began to get assertive as she brought the team back with 10 of her 12 points coming in their rally attempt. After Messeman got the Mystics within one (70-69) with 5:14 to go, the Verizon Center turned into a playoff-like atmosphere. Each possession felt like each team was trading tit for tat as Sue Bird made a three to give the Storm a four point lead, then Tierra Ruffin-Pratt responded with a beautiful and-1 to bring it within one again. Jewell Lloyd who had a quiet three quarters scored four straight points to what appeared to be a nail in the coffin. With under a minute to go, the Storm couldn’t score with back to back 24 second violations however Tayler Hill missed both three point opportunities and the Mystics went on to lose 81-76.
Coach Thibault said “His team played well but didn’t execute on the little things and that’s what make a playoff team, the little things.” With this loss, the Mystics have to win out, but now they need help to make it in the playoffs.