The third quarter of Game 4 of the WNBA Finals fully encapsulated the championship intensity that the Mystics have possessed in their “Run it Back” season.
To get to that point, Washington had endured one of their worst first halves of basketball on the season. Only scoring 40 points in the first 20 minutes on Tuesday night was one of the five worst scoring first halves of the season. Facing a 16-point deficit in a WNBA Finals game had many scattering to buy tickets for Game 5 on Thursday.
Then, the Mystics displayed their potent offense in a 10-minute spurt. They outscored the Connecticut Sun 28-12 to level the contest at 68-68.
It was an implausible stretch for Washington. Up until that point, the Mystics had shown nothing to signal they could turn it around. Twelve fouls and six turnovers told the tale. Kristi Toliver had zero points. So did bench star Emma Meesseman. All the Mystics had to hang on was the prestige of their regular-season offensive accomplishments.
The quarter started with the MVP, Elena Delle Donne doing all she could to light a spark. She scored their first four points out of the break. A steal at mid-court by Natasha Cloud led Ariel Atkins to a turnaround jumper. A quick 6-0 run out of the gate before Connecticut scored their first point.
6-0 run to start the 3rd. That's what we do like pic.twitter.com/kKyocSpZqW— Washington Mystics (@WashMystics) October 9, 2019
And a point is all they answered with. The Sun was rattled and missed their first seven shots of the period. Nearly every player for Connecticut tried something different, but all the momentum was in Washington’s hands.
After a made free throw, Toliver got her first with a free throw of her own. An Atkins 3-pointer was then followed by back-to-back threes from Toliver. The point guard was unleashed and the lead had been narrowed to one. A 16-1 run got Washington back into the contest and it was a new ballgame.
1️⃣ POINT BALL GAME pic.twitter.com/EN2L0rMaX0— Washington Mystics (@WashMystics) October 9, 2019
While that quarter gave Washington a chance to close out their first WNBA title, they came up short. Eventually, they took the lead in the fourth quarter and led by as much as six and set up an incredible back-and-forth stretch to close the game. Connecticut finally answered and won 90-86 to force a winner-take-all Game 5.
But the third quarter showed how deadly the Mystics can be when rolling on all cylinders. In that frame, they took no prisoners and shot 10-for-17 (3-for-6 from deep). Toliver rattled off seven and Meesseman had six after neither scored in the first two quarters.
Trailing by 16, it only took the Mystics a quarter to tie up the game. That’s the same offense that the Mystics employed in Game 3 and throughout the regular season. A championship-level comeback that a minute number of teams could ever achieve.
Too bad it took a whole half to get that offense rolling. And through it all, that half is more the rarity than their impressive third quarter. Washington reached 30 points in a quarter 14 times in the regular season.
The final game of the series is Thursday at 8:00 p.m. at the Entertainment and Sports Arena in Washington D.C.
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