The Mystics started the post Olympic brea with a back-to-back, in the first half of it they got a much needded win over the Indiana Fever. Unfortunately for them, they couldn’t get the win on the back end of the back-to-back as the San Antonio Stars beat them 85-74 last night at the Verizon Center. The Mystics got off to a slow start offensively, getting outscored 26 to 6 in the second quarter. They would rally in the second half as Tayler Hill scored a career high 26 points, 21 of which came in the second half. Former Mystics forward Monique Currie, along with Astou Ndour led the way for the Stars with 16 points a piece. They led from wire to wire.
Too give an idea on just how much Washington struggled shooting, they shot just 16.1% in the first half, going 5-of-31. The night before they hit 8 three-pointers, at the half against the Stars they were 0-for-9. Dallas did an outstanding job from the line, knocking down 23 of their 25 attempts on the night. The Stars answered every run and were able to withstand Washington’s despite having 17 turnovers, a few that were shot clock violations.
The Mystics were a different team after the half, opening with a 14-4 run. It was sparked by defense and getting in transition, it also helped that their shooters started hitting shots. Tierra Ruffin-Pratt did a good job of attacking the basket and getting to the line, forcing the official’s hand into blowing the whistle. The problem with that, Washington shot just 65% from the line. The margin of victory for Dallas was 11, the Mystics missed 13 free throws.
One of the pivotal moments of the game came late in the third quarter. Washington got a steal, Natasha Cloud got out in transition and attacked the basket. She finished through the contact and crowd erupted. That basket would cut the lead from 10 to 8, and she’d have a free throw coming which could bring it down to 7. The whistle blew and everyone thought it was a blocking foul, instead it was a charge on Cloud. The crowd started booing and the Stars took advantage of the momentum changing call by hitting a three on the ensuing possession.
The Mystics fought hard until the end, but Moriah Jefferson kept attacking the paint and finding her teammates. Ndour made a living on the evening by finding open spots in the midrange area and knocking them down. Hill got hot from down town, knocking down 5 of her 10 attempts and TRP had 17 for the game.
It was that slow start, the bad shooting. Specifically from the charity stripe, it’s a totally different game if Washington shoots 80% or better from the line. Still, credit must be given to the Stars who have dealt with a ton of injuries this season. They came out of the break and responded after a loss with a win on the road in Washington.
It’s not the end of the world for the Mystics in regards to making the playoffs, they are still in that tie with Seattle for eighth place. The schedule down the stretch is tough and as Emma Meesseman said after the game, they “can’t start another game like that” going forward.
Moriah Jefferson. The number two overall pick in this year’s WNBA draft is starting to come into her own, against Washington she looked like the 4-time National Champion that she was coming out of Uconn. She finished with 15 points, 9 assists, and just one turnover. It was a masterful floor game from a point guard, whether she was a rookie or not. She did a good job of managing the tempo of the game for her team, also balanced creating and attacking well. Keeping the Washington bigs off balance, using an array of pull ups, floaters, and step backs to create space for herself and teammates.
Tayler Hill. There’s no question, the Mystics are a different team when she’s healthy. Her second half was impressive, everyone of those 21 points were needed. She continues to grow, becoming a complete scorer and two-way player that her team can rely on. If Washington wishes to make the post season for a fourth consecutive year, they’re going to need that type of effort and output from her every game the rest of the way.
Monique Currie. The wily vet set the tone for her team in the opening quarter, being aggressive in getting to the rim and on the defensive end. She scored the game’s first two points on a midrange jumper. Her job on the glass was outstanding last night, leading the game with 10. Proving that she still has game and is a great example for a young team like San Antonio.
Tierra Ruffin-Pratt. Hill wasn’t the only player to have a big second half, TRP scored 14 second half points as she tried to help her team rally. Ruffin-Pratt also pulled down 8 rebounds and had 4 assists. She was the catalyst for that 14-4 run to start the second half.
Turnovers. That was one of the big positives from this game, Washington turned it over just 10 times on the night. They forced San Antonio into 17, that is definitely an area to build on as they head down the stretch.