Too Much Excitement!
We were expecting a tough and exciting game this evening. But frankly, we could've done with a little less last-second-drama!
Thank goodness for Mystics fans, though, all the nail-biting and breath-holding was worth it as Washington ended the Silver Stars' 3-game home win streak tonight, 84-82, and ended their own 2-game losing skid. This was a tense game that literally came down to the final seconds and the final possession.
The game began as a relatively sloppy affair, with both teams committing 7 turnovers in the first quarter. San Antonio was up 19-15 at the end of that period. But in the second 10 minutes, the Mystics took much better care of the basketball (only a single TO in that quarter) and battled back to take a 39-33 lead into the locker room at halftime.
After the break, the Mystics continued to build on their lead and were up by 12 points with about 3 minutes left in the third. But more turnovers and missed opportunities by Washington allowed San Antonio to trim the lead to 3 points by the end of that period. To make matters worse, Alana Beard was called for her 5th foul with 1.2 seconds left in the quarter. Uh-oh!
Despite Alana's troubles, this Mystics team -- as they've demonstrated several times already this season -- found a way to regroup and stay in the game. In the final period, the Mystics slowly began adding to their lead. But the game was hardly over. Anyone who follows the WNBA knows that Becky Hammon is one of the (if not the) most prolific 4th period scorers in the League. Teams can contain her for 30 minutes, but look out in that final 10! And sure enough, Becky exploded, scoring 11 (of her 18) points in the final period, including a 3-pointer with 16 seconds left in the game that tied the score at 82. Uh-oh!
With 8.4 seconds remaining and in possession of the ball, the Mystics called a time out. While Coach Plank and her players strategized, we bit our nails. When play resumed we held our breath, waiting for the San Antonio announcer to describe the final seconds of regulation. 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2 . . . at last, with 1.9 seconds left, Alana Beard shoots and scores! AB played the last 8-1/2 minutes with 5 fouls . . . and was there at the end with the ball in her hands when we needed her most. Of course, the excitement didn't end there. The Silver Stars still had time for one more shot, but fortunately Belinda Snell missed her attempt at a 3, and the Mystics held on for the win. WHEW!!!
The Mystics' backcourt was instrumental in tonight's victory. AB and Lindsey Harding each had 19 points (sharing the team high), while Matee Ajavon and Crystal Langhorne came off the bench and added 15 and 13 points, respectively. As for our starting post players, Nakia Sanford had a somewhat better outing, finishing with 8 points. But Chas continued to struggle, scoring only 1 point in the game, a free throw with 4:34 left in the final period. On a very positive note, though, the Mystics outrebounded San Antonio, despite the Silver Stars' significant height advantage.
We really wish we could have seen this game, particularly the thrilling fourth quarter. It's just not as much fun to listen to an audio broadcast, especially when the announcers are fairly dull. Whatever happened to Frank Hanrahan, who was supposed to be broadcasting for the Mystics? The only audio feed on WNBA Live Access was provided by the San Antonio announcers. We have to give them credit, though, for not being homers.
This was an important road victory for the Mystics, still playing without the injured Marissa Coleman, and it should provide some momentum as the team finishes out the second half of their road trip. Ironically, Washington's next two opponents, the Dream and the Lynx, battled each other tonight in a nationally televised (ESPN2) display of offensive firepower that Minny won, 92-85. The Mystics will definitely need to bring all of their defensive skills to both of these next two games.
But in the meantime, congratulations to the Mystics on tonight's gritty, tough -- and successful -- performance!