Tina Charles clutch putback, defense carries Mystics


Just when it seems like Tina Charles has willed the Mystics to every incredible accomplishment they've had so far in 2021, she is able to deliver another. 

The Mystics relinquished a lead that they had held almost the entire game in the final moments of their contest against their 89-85 win over the Sky. Throughout the matchup, Washington was comfortably ahead, hovering around an eight-point lead. All of sudden they needed a bucket.

Down by two, with four seconds left, the Mystics had time to get off a clean look. 

Charles was not the look. Ariel Atkins was left wide open in the corner for a three. But, the guard missed badly just grazing off the backboard. Charles was there. She went straight up and got the put-back at the buzzer to go to overtime. It was one of five offensive rebounds for her on the night, scoring her 30th point.

"I like to pride myself on - I didn't want to lose the game. I like to pride myself. I think all game I was very assertive, just finding my spots and just being where the ball, I mean I just got to thank the basketball gods," Charles said postgame. 

It was a play that Atkins issued some wishful thinking, hoping it would be deemed 'assist' after the fact. But for Charles, she though she should have been going to the line for the win. 

"I actually thought it was an and-one after I saw the review, but I'm just glad the ball went in and I was able to rebound and put it up," Charles said.


Related: Charles is on pace for the best individual scoring season ever

That bucket was exactly the team needed to secure the victory. From there, Washington regained control and outscored the Sky seven to three in overtime.

Charles finished her night with 34 points and 17 rebounds. 

"At the end of the game when we needed stops, we got stops and I think that's a bonding thing for a team going in the break," head coach Mike Thibault said. "You played against a good team and you could get defensive stops when you most most needed it at the end."

The victory snapped a four-game losing streak heading into the Olympic break. It is much-needed for a team that has four players currently sidelined with an injury. Beating Chicago came with only eight healthy players. Washington stands at 8-10. Worst case scenario is they'll be half a game out of the final playoff spot before the restart.

Still, with their limitations, the Mystics found another way to win. Part of it was the heroics of Charles, but they are starting to see the pieces coming together. Some of it from how they stepped it up in the final period. 

"We can get stops and moments when we need to," Charles said. "for us to just continue to trust one another, and be out there, I think it's I think it's really great that we're able to get stops versus a team that has been collectively together the entire time, and has more chemistry and everything."