The Mystics ran it back. Almost.
In their first rematch with the Seattle Storm since being shut out at in the WNBA Finals last season, Washington let the game slip away from them late to lose their second game in a row.
Despite another well-rounded game from Elena Delle Donne (19 points) and 14 points off the bench for Aerial Powers, losing Kristi Toliver to an ejection early in the game plus a handful calls that had the crowd in Southeast D.C. all but pleased proved to be too much for the Mystics.
It was a game of runs to start, with consistent lead changes through the first half. Then, the Mystics pulled away, ahead by eight at halftime and building a lead as large as 12 in the third quarter.
Things were going Washington’s way. Could they run it back?
Delle Donne made a driving layup to close the third quarter and drilled jumper to open the fourth that to give the Mystics a 13 point lead at 65-52. But then the Storm scored 12 of the next 14 points.
With less than four minutes to go in the game, the lead was down to one possession for the Mystics.
Washington missed bucket after bucket.
It was clear that they could have used Toliver, one of their best players, on the court. The Mystics scored just eight points to close the last quarter, compared to the Storm’s 22.
A go-ahead jumper buy Jewell Lloyd gave the Storm a 73-71 lead with 8.6 seconds left, and despite having a near-open look at the basket to tie the game, Aerial Powers missed the driving floating jump shot.
“That was bad basketball. We shot it terribly. Our defense wasn’t awful, but it wasn’t great when we needed it most to be,” said Mystics head coach Mike Thibault after the game.
“We did a great job in the first half of taking care of the basketball and moving the ball. Second half we moved the ball, but missed shot after shot after shot. When you score eight points in the fourth quarter it’s hard. We had five turnovers in the fourth quarter to add to that and I don’t know that our clock management was very good,” he added. “Just those things -- that’s not good basketball.”
Instead of moving to 5-0 at home, Washington falls to 4-1. They’re now 4-3 on the season.
Thibault lamented that the team now to “make up for it somewhere in the next month.”
“You’ve gotta get one that maybe no one expects you to win and now you’ve gotta go get one of those somehow. Because we gave one tonight. Credit Seattle for hanging in, but I think as much as anything, when you shoot the ball like we did, it’s hard to win the game,” Thibault added.
The Mystics finished the game shooting 34.8 percent from the field compared to the Storm’s 46 percent.
The Mystics head out west to face the Los Angeles Sparks on Tuesday and the Las Vegas Aces on Thursday. They then have two more away games before returning home to face the Connecticut Sun on June 29. The Sun blew out the Mystics to open the WNBA season last month, and they’re currently 6-1 and atop the Eastern Conference Division.