In a matchup of teams in desperate need of a win, the Washington Mystics were in Seattle for the final game of a solid 5-game slate on Sunday.
The Mystics stuck with the starting lineup of the last four games while the Seattle Storm moved Temeka Johnson into the other starting guard spot vacated by Tanisha Wright, who was out with a knee strain. Noelle Quinn had taken the spot in the previous game against the San Antonio Stars but with a plus/minus of -21 in an OT loss, one had to see a change coming.
The game started off quickly as the two lowest scoring teams in the W opened the game hot, ending the first quarter with Seattle up three, 25-22. This trend continued into the second quarter and at the half, Seattle was up four, 45-41. As Newton would have it, the teams cooled off in the second half and it became a battle of wills. Both teams cooled off, more free throws were taken, neither team was really able to pull away. Washington had a stretch where you thought they may pull away, but Seattle stepped to the plate and was able to tie the game up. Monique Currie converted a three point play with 1:39 left, but Sue Bird passed up a good look on the catch to hit a step back three shortly after to tie the game. Both teams struggled to execute from there sending the game crawling into OT.
In the end, the veteran-laden squad from the Emerald City was able to escape with a win even though rookie guard Bria Hartley put on a show in front of the coach who drafted her, only to trade her away. She finished the game with 26 points 11-16 shooting. Monique Currie also chipped in 16 and Kara Lawson is starting to round into form with 13 points on 4-6.
Seattle put three starters in double figures as Sue Bird, battling the younger generation UConn point guard, had 21. Camille Little led the way with 22 points, 12 from the free throw line and Crystal Langhorne put up 11 and 5 against her old team.
The story of this game for Seattle had to be its bench production. Shekinna Stricklen hit 4 threes for 12 points, Nicole Powell played some smart team defense and knocked down both threes she took, Jenna O'Hea hit her only 3 but Quinn, who as mentioned earlier didn't play well last game, added 5 points, 11 rebounds and 7 assists. Quinn also had some key plays down the stretch that won't show up in the box score but ultimately led to this win.
Seattle: The vets are really starting to round into form and figure out how to play together. Tanisha Wright's knee has long given her trouble but she hasn't really missed games over the last few years so you have to start wondering if she may be seeing the light at the end of the tunnel, which has to be scary for Storm fans as Agler still hasn't warned to grooming young players for the future.
Also concerning is that Agler doesn't really seem to trust Langhorne. Considering he gave up the player that lit them up tonight, one has to wonder what's going on behind closed doors. On the other hand, Sue Bird is also starting to look like herself again, which is a good thing for everyone involved.
Washington: Despite their 5-9 record and where this team may end up in the standings this season, the Washington Mystics are one franchise superstar away from being really special. So many of their games this year, they play well and their system works early but as the game goes on, the talent of the opposition starts to take over. This goes in line with a lot of what Albert has said in the past about this team, and their lack of a franchise player. If players aren't hitting the shots out of the sets, they really don't have that one player to just give the ball to. Hartley looked like she could potentially be that player, but she's still a rookie.
If Mike Thibault can keep most of the younger players on this team together, the Mystics are going to be very special in a few years. I truly believe the ownership group in D.C. knows that they have the best coach in the WNBA so this is going to be fun to watch.
Kia Vaughn has become a bit of a black hole. If she isn't able to make the pass that's supposed to be made in the offensive set, she immediately shoots the ball. When she's hitting, it's passable but tonight some of her shots were extremely questionable and really took away from the great start the Mystics had.