Mystics 

Mystics struggle late, Wheeler clutch for Fever

A bad third quarter for the second consecutive game played a huge role in Washington’s loss to the Indiana Fever. Even then, Washington rallied from that poor period and had two chances late in the game. They got virtually nothing from two late game offensive possessions and the lack of execution definitely hurt them late. The Fever clinched a playoff berth with the 80-73 victory on the road, Washington’s post season chances took yet another blow with the loss. Erica Wheeler was big for the Fever, scoring nine of her 17 points in the final two minutes to lead them to victory.

The Mystics got off to a slow start, but then rallied with a great run fueled by Emma Meesseman, she scored 13 points in the first quarter alone. The second quarter continued to go Washington’s way as Kia Vaughn came off the bench and produced to the tune of 12 points, but they struggled towards the end of the half. Their once nine point lead was cut to five courtesy of a Fever run to end the half. Washington contributed to their own demise with a few lapses on the defensive end and generally not doing the little things to keep their lead.

Indiana has a few young guards in Erica Wheeler, Shenise Johnson, and Tiffany Mitchell. The three got things going in the third quarter with their outstanding ball pressure. That led to bad offensive possessions and transition opportunities for the Fever. The Mystics couldn’t find an anchor on the offensive end with Emma saddled to the bench with foul trouble.

Washington did continue to fight, but they couldn’t get over the hump. Tayler Hill hit a few triples, Natasha Cloud had a few big defensive plays during their run. Much like Friday’s game against Seattle, the Mystics appeared to be pressing a bit late. They would get a few open looks from three late, but couldn’t convert.

Meesseman was a tough cover for the Fever all night. Washington found great ways to get her the ball throughout the game, but that wasn’t the case on those last two possessions. The spacing was bad and it was hard to see what Coach Thibault drew up late, credit to the Fever for making it difficult with their ball pressure, but Washington had two chances to cut the three point lead.

Still, Washington has yet to be eliminated from the postseason, seven spots are taken and it’s between them and the Mercury. So there’s a chance.

Observations

Ball Pressure. The Fever were outstanding in the second half, Johnson, Mitchell, and Wheeler really got underneath the Mystics ball handlers and disrupted their offense.

Late game struggles. Washington’s youth has shown in their last two losses, in those late game situations, other teams know where the ball is going. Seattle had three closers in Sue Bird and the two youngsters in Jewell Loyd and Breanna Stewart. The Fever have Catchings, Coleman, and January. Washington needs those player(s) to step forward, the two that come to mind at the moment are Emma and Tayler, but they’re not quite there yet.

Catch. The living legend played her last game of her career in the nation’s capital. She started the game and played just 15 minutes, after the game she talked about what the battles with the Mystics have meant to her over her career and how proud she was of her current bunch for getting the win.

Not Dead Yet. As of this moment, the Mystics aren’t eliminated. There’s three games left starting tomorrow against the Liberty, followed by the Dream which are both on the road and then finishing up here at home against Connecticut.

 

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