The first 10 minutes of today's game were closely contested as the two teams traded narrow leads. In the first 3 minutes of the second period, the Mystics added 10 points, opening up a 6-point lead over San Antonio. But in the final 7 minutes before halftime, Washington suffered a drought, managing only 4 more points before heading to the locker room. Meanwhile, the Silver Stars got open looks and hit their shots. End result: by halftime, that 6-point Mystics lead had turned into a 9-point deficit.
In the 3rd period, 3 players, Alana, Lindsey and Lang, accounted for the all of the Mystics' scoring. The ACC-trio even managed to outscore San Antonio in that period by 2 points. But without help from the other 2 positions, they battled to keep from losing ground.
At the start of the 4th quarter, with the Mystics trailing by 7, Coach Plank made some adjustments. The team needed to play catch-up basketball, so she went with a 3-guard offense, adding Matee Ajavon to the line-up alongside Alana and Lindsey. Less than a minute into the period, Matee scored her first 2 points of the game . . . and then just kept on scoring! With a little less than a minute remaining in the period -- and the game -- Matee scored her 12th, 13th & 14th points! Matee's hot hand ignited the Mystics' run that closed the gap to a single point. However, despite holding San Antonio scoreless in the final 47 seconds, the Mystics were unable to score and pull ahead. An exciting ending, yes. A happy ending, no.
Besides Matee, three other players scored in double figures -- Lindsey, Alana and Lang. Lindsey and Alana each played a little more than 37 minutes and scored 18 and 17 points, respectively. Lang and Bernice Mosby (both off the bench) handled most of the frontcourt duties in the second half. Lang finished with 10 points (& 6 rebounds) and B-Mo, who played the entire 4th quarter, added 8.
The other starters, Mo Currie, Nakia Sanford and Chasity Melvin, combined for only 9 points while adding 8 turnovers. Unfortunately, Marissa Coleman was also ineffective this afternoon. Riss is not yet playing like she was before her injury. Mo and Marissa, the Mystics' two small forwards, managed to score only 4 points today, total. Frankly, the BasketCases think it's a miracle that this game was as close as it was, given the lack of production from the SF position and from our starting frontcourt. Matee was almost a miracle-worker, but not quite.
Including today's defeat, 4 of the Mystics' 6 losses this season have been by 6 points or fewer. That's the good news. This young retooled Washington team has competed hard in practically every game. Alana's been playing like the All-Star she now officially is. Lindsey has upgraded the Mystics at the point guard position dramatically. Crystal Langhorne has turned into a steady contributor, game in and game out. And other players, like Matee today or Marissa before her injury, have had big games that really contributed to the team's performance. All good.
But losing 4 games by slim margins is also the bad news. We're now far enough into the season to see that the Mystics still have some real weaknesses, particularly at certain positions. As a result, the team's had difficulty closing out and winning some of these tight ballgames. The Mystics' last two losses have been by a combined total of 3 points! Ouch. But as frustrating as a game like today's can be, the BasketCases are seeing a team this season that competes and doesn't quit. So we're still feeling hopeful as we look ahead -- in the short term -- to Saturday's game against the NY Liberty and -- in the long term -- to the rest of the season and beyond.