Despite a monster effort from Stefanie Dolson, who went toe to toe with Liberty forward Tina Charles, the Mystics fell short and lost back-to-back games for the first time this season. It took an extra period for the winner to be decided, with the Liberty coming out on top 79-76. New York is now in sole possession of second place in the East and have pushed their win streak to three games. Dolson’s final line once the game was over was 22 points, 13 rebounds and six assists. Charles had 21 points and 10 rebounds in the win. Washington had multiple opportunities to put New York away and win in regulation, but failed to do so. As Coach Thibault said after the game, ” You can’t give a good team that many opportunities to stick around.”
The Mystics used a 7-0 run, sparked by Stefanie Dolson to cut a 10 point lead to three points heading into the fourth quarter. They Mystics defense didn’t show up until the last period in regulation, a fine time at that. The suffocating effort held the visiting Liberty without a field goal for the first eight minutes of the quarter. While that sounds like winning basketball, Washington didn’t do well in the foul department. The Liberty went to the line 25 times for the game, much of it coming in the fourth quarter.
One of the biggest issues for Washington in this game was their work on the glass, while Dolson pulled down 13 boards, the next highest total was six from Emma Meesseman. So where did the difference come from if New York out-rebounded Washington by 10 on the glass? The guards. New York’s guards pulled down 22 rebounds, Washington’s guards had nine. So half of the Liberty’s 44 rebounds came from their guards, upon hearing they were out-rebounded by 10, by default our attention goes to the bigs. That wasn’t the case, it was 24-22 in the Mystics favor amongst forwards and centers.
Their was a power surge with 2:06 left in the game, it took a full 15 minutes for everything to come back online. Upon the power returning, Tierra Ruffin-Pratt got to the line and broke the 67-67 tie by hitting two free throws., They were the biggest of her 10 points on the night, the Mystics got a stop on the ensuing possession. They then ran their offense and it resulted in a wide open 12 foot shot for Meesseman, a shot that’s in her wheelhouse, it’s her area on the floor that she’s hit so many shots from, but she didn’t hit that one and the Mystics remained up two points, rather than four.
Tanisha Wright, got fouled with 3.1 seconds left in the game. It was Emma’s sixth foul and LaToya Sanders came in to take her place. Wright calmly sank both shots from the charity stripe to tie the game at 69. Washington would have a chance to win it, again. Dolson got the ball off the side out, she rushed it a tad bit and her shot fell short as the buzzer sounded to end regulation. It was the area of the floor in which she hit several shots throughout the game.
The extra period started with a turnover by the Mystics, it led to a transition bucket for the Liberty. Ivory Latta responded with a three point play the old fashioned way, getting the layup to fall despite the harm and hitting the free throw to follow. That gave Washington a 72-71 lead, with Latta stepping up, it made perfect sense for New York’s playmaker to return the favor. Epiphany Price who made her season debut for her hometown team, Prince hit a gorgeous floater over the outstretched hands of Dolson. She had 12 points in the contest, really helping to maintain balance between the Liberty’s bigs and guards.
Stefanie Dolson would hit yet another big shot to keep Washington in it. She then blocked a shot from a Liberty guard on the ensuing possession, but the ball fell into the hands of Tina Charles who converted the easy putback. Rodgers then got fouled after a bad offensive possession, she went to the line and missed both tries from the charity stripe. Washington had another chance to take control of the game, again. But the possession was sloppy and the Liberty regained the ball. Sugar Rodgers went to the line to extend the Liberty lead, but this time she hit both free throws. Instead of being down by one, the Mystics were now down by three and had to attempt a shot from beyond the arc.
The ensuing possession was horrible, Latta tried to get free but got fouled. The Liberty had a foul to give, so the foul on Latta didn’t put her on the line. Coach Thibault called timeout with 4.9 seconds left in the game and drew up the final play. The call resulted in Kara Lawson getting open in the short corner, she caught it and raised up to shoot the ball, but a Liberty defender got a hand on the ball and it felt drastically short.
- Meesseman is not the only big worth All-Star consideration on the Mystics. Dolson showed that she can be depended on to have an offense run through her, she had 6 assists on the night. Washington has two All-Star caliber bigs in their starting lineup, Dolson is on her way to becoming a force in this league
- Prince’s return. The Liberty missed her dearly, her playmaking in the pick-and-roll opens up the floor for Charles, Stokes and others. Really changes the look on offense and balances out the floor
- Kiah Stokes is a BEAST on the defensive end of the floor. Her athleticism gives the Liberty an unfair advantage as she has the size of a big but can move with guards. She had two big blocks on Bria Hartley and Emma Messeman, on Hartley it was a chase down block. Once her offense catches up, the Liberty will have two All-Star caliber bigs
- Hartley is starting to look like herself as far as movement goes. She didn’t shoot it well, but her confidence in her knee and foot is starting to show
- LaToya Sanders will be a good fit to the Mystics. She fits the mold of the pick-and-pop bigs that are on the roster, her shots all fell short today, but it was evident that she fits in well on both ends of the floor
- Tina Charles. The former Uconn standout had 21 points and 10 rebounds on the day, she scored her 3,000th point midway through game when she scored her 16th point. So congratulations are in order