The Washington Mystics reached the playoffs in each of coach Mike Thibault's first two seasons, but failed to advance out of the opening round. That all changes with a win Sunday.
Leading 1-0 in their best-of-3 Eastern Conference semifinal series, the Mystics host the New York Liberty 1:00 p.m. at Verizon Center in Game 2. Washington won an 86-83 double-overtime thriller over New York Friday night.
Ivory Latta scored 15 points, including a clutch game-tying 3-pointer with 28 seconds remaining in regulation before a sold out crowd at Madison Square Garden. The point guard also penetrated and fed Emma Meesseman for a layup with 1.6 seconds left in the first overtime to force a second. Meesseman finished with 13 points and 10 rebounds.
Neither team led by more than four points during the second half or overtime sessions until the Mystics took control with a 7-0 run. Latta's two free throws with 9.3 seconds remaining put the fourth-seed up 85-80. Washington sank 19 of 24 overall while New York went 16 of 26.
New York finished with the best record in the East this season, but Washington entered armed with confidence having won three of four head-to-head meetings.
''Absolutely not,'' Latta told reporters following the win when asked if any intimidation existed. ''Everyone had a positive mindset, we just made sure we took care of what we needed to do. Play hard and together as a team.''
Three things to know heading into Sunday's Game 2 at Verizon Center:
1. Thibault told CSNmidatlantic.com Saturday that All-Star center Stefanie Dolson is expected to play Sunday. She exited with 3:20 remaining after injuring her ankle. Guard Kara Lawson did not suffer any setbacks from a back injury that kept her out of the final eight regular season games before scoring eight points in 19 minutes off the bench.
2. Speaking with CSNmidatlantic.com ahead of Game 1, Lawson said Washington's starting five might not stand out compared to others in the league, but that the overal roster was as strong as any. Depth certainly played a factor in the opening win. The Mystics' reserves outscored their counterparts 33-6. All five players off the bench scored, including Tayler Hill with points and eight from Lawson. New York relied heavily on its starting lineup
3. New York finished the regular season with a WNBA-best 11-6 road record. In other words, this series is hardly over. Guard Epiphanny Prince led all scorers in Game 1 with 26 points on 11 of 16 shooting while All-Star center Tina Charles had 22 for the Liberty on 10 of 27 shooting. Those two nearly carried New York to a win without much scoring help elsewhere.