It’s the fourth quarter and Skylar Diggins-Smith is at the top of the key dribbling the ball waiting for the shot clock to go down as Ivory Latta defends her. As the shot clock begins to trickle down she takes about two dribbles to the right and then splits two Mystic defenders. As she splits the two defenders with a hard dribble to the left she sees an open Theresa Plaisance on the three point line who she hits for a gut wrenching triple with 17.2 seconds left. That was the dagger that ended Washington’s rally on Saturday night as the Dallas Wings got a critical road victory, 83-78 at the Capitol One Arena. The Mystics have already clinched a playoff berth, but they went into this game after losing to the New York Liberty on Friday night. Saturday night’s loss made the fourth seed in the playoffs — and the bye that comes with it — almost impossible to gain back from the Liberty. Diggins-Smith led the way for the Wings with 20 points and 7 assists. Washington got a great game from their bigs as Elena Delle Donne had 29 points and 11 rebounds, while Emma Meesseman recorded 22 points.
Washington began the game with a missed lay up by Krystal Thomas. That missed layup seemed to have a trickle down effect on the rest of the team because the Mystics missed too many layups in this quarter. The Mystics were also having trouble with defending the corner three as the Wings had a field day with it. Dallas ended the quarter with twelve points in the paint while the Mystics ended it with only two. Emma Meesseman and Skylar Diggins-Smith led their teams with seven points in this quarter.
Dallas started off the second quarter where they left off the first, with a long ball. Elena Delle Donne followed that up by hitting her next two shots. One was a nice midrange jumpshot and the next was converting a beautiful AND-1. Both teams began to trade baskets as the Mystics began to trim down the Wings lead. Delle Donne seemed to be getting back into the swing of things because she seemed to be more active than she was in her previous game and the previous quarter. She could be seen moving off of the ball while making moves with the ball in her hands at the same time. Emma was also very active in the post during this game. Her post moves were beautiful as scored most of her points with left handed and right handed post hoods and floaters. The home team started to dig in defensively, but they really got going when Ivory Latta checked into the game for a struggling Kristi Toliver. They did a much better job of defending the three point shot along with containing Skylar Diggins-Smith who seemed to be too much for Toliver to handle. They also did a much better job of making their lay up attempts as Meesseman and Delle Donne led the way for Washington. Delle Donne finished the half with fourteen points and Emma finished with 13 points for the Mystics. That was good enough for Washington to carve out a 50-43 lead at the break.
The Mystics looked to build on their lead, but they found themselves reverting back to what got them in a hole. The defense fell off and Dallas was able to get into the paint at will. Toliver’s struggles in the first half and the difference Latta made when she was at the helm raises the question as to why Ivory was taken off the floor to start the second half. No longer able to control the tempo or generate stops, Washington’s scoring solely fell on the shoulders of their bigs. Delle Donne and Meesseman had 18 and 19 points respectively heading into the fourth quarter. Still, Washington trailed by just one at that point.
Basketball is all about momentum and playing mistake free. The team who takes advantage of both will come out victorious 99.9 percent of the time.
Skylar took over in the fourth quarter. She did a great job of controlling the pace and the flow of the game, setting her teammates up for easy baskets. She got the ball from point A (backcourt) to Point B (across halfcourt) at a great pace. The Mystics definitely had some self inflicted wounds in the period. They turned the ball over at the wrong times and their assistant coach was even hit with a technical foul. That cannot happen. As soon as it seemed like the Mystics were ready to take this game over they would make crazy decisions with the ball. Meesseman hit a nice three point shot from the top of the arch, but Toliver soon followed with an errant cross court pass. Delle Donne would hit two free throws to put Washington up by two. Washington got a much needed stop,but on the very next possession Toliver got fouled and misses both free throws. Once again momentum and energy is real and Dallas took advantage. The Mystics were not out of this game though, down three with 30 seconds left when Latta turned the ball over after stepping out of bounds. That was the ballgame.