Down by 23 points to a four-win team, without Emma Meesseman and with Aerial Powers’ season just being shut down, things seemed to be going to a dark place for the Washington Mystics on the 2020 season. Even though the result is a loss, the Mystics team turned it around and showed that despite the fluidity of their roster they still are going to show some fight.
Coming out of the half, down by 20+ points energy was low. Washington’s players were walking up the court and getting blown by on the defensive end. The Mystics seemed to have no interest in wanting to finish the game and Arike Ogunbowale was torching them. The bus might as well been warming up in the parking lot.
Myisha Hines-Allen, however, wasn’t about to let Dallas Wings walk over the defending champs like that. On the offensive end, she took over the contest in the third quarter. Of her career-high 35 points, Hines-Allen scored 17 of them in the third quarter, 29 of the team’s total points in that frame.
“I went in attack mode,” Hines-Allen said postgame. “I was just hot to be honest with you.”
“We were just trying to fire each other up. We know what we’re capable of doing so it’s just a matter of digging deep and keep that same energy.”
The result was Washington doubling up Dallas. After being down 65-42, the Mystics closed regulation on a 46-23 run to force overtime.
All the momentum was going Washington’s way. Ogubowale was held to only four points in the second half. The five players who had got the Mystics back into the contest – Sug Sutton, Kiara Leslie, Ariel Atkins, Hines-Allen and Alaina Coates – had played the entirety of the fourth quarter. The same five looked to carry the team the distance in the extra period.
That's when things came to a crashing halt. The first three Mystics possessions of overtime were three turnovers all committed by Coates. One time she lost control of the ball on a drive, the remaining two were offensive fouls. From that point on the offense couldn’t recover as they mustered only four points.
“It’s a shame that, for the great effort that group showed us to get back in the game that we couldn’t finish it off,” head coach Mike Thibault said postgame. “We had a couple chances in regulations to take the lead at the end.”
Coates, despite her seven turnovers, also nabbed a career-high with 11 points. Leslie did too (10 points) with the extended minutes in her return from injury.
Typically, those aren’t the go-to players for Washington in crunch tie me. However, with the limited roster and Thibault not liking the effort of other starters, those two got an opportunity.
“I’m sending some messages as we go along. There’s a right way and a wrong way to play,” Thibault said. “They were being rewarded for how they played that’s why they got to stay in.”
Starters Leilani Mitchell, Tianna Hawkins and Stella Johnson missed the entire fourth quarter and only played in the waning moments of overtime.
The loss puts the Mystics at 4-8 just over halfway through the season. Against the Wings, who also entered the game with four wins, it was important for the team to have in regard to a playoff push. But with so many new faces, the team is still just trying to put it all together. A third of the roster has yet to play even five games for this team and already they’re being put in a key spot.
“We’re still trying to get it to the point where we can call the play and not have to be like ‘oh we’re going,’” Coates said. “It’s to be expected, but [the new signees] bring energy on and off the court. The chemistry is going to come.”