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Mystics vs. Liberty Notes: Latta leads Washington over New York

Just the Facts, Ma'am: 10 first-quarter points from Kia Vaughn started it, and 10 fourth-quarter points from Ivory Latta finished Washington's 68-60 home win against New York. Latta finished with 15 to lead the Mystics, while Vaughn and Jelena Milovanovic each had 14. Cappie Pondexter led New York with 20. For questionable shots, bad ideas, hesitancy, local grub, a missed pun, using momentum, caffeine caffeine CAFFEINE, new looks, and dumb ideas, join your intrepid and hydrated blogger after the jump.

Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

Hello, loyal and patient readers! Your intrepid blogger, with her dashing partner in tow, has headed down to DC for what was supposed to be the first half of a two-game swing in the nation's capital. However, the Mystics' final cuts included Nadirah McKenith, and therefore we decided that we didn't want to spend extra money to watch a team we had no rooting interest in.

We're still saddled with the blue pants that don't go with our black uniforms. I am disappointed in Adidas's color coordination.

A couple of scattered groups of Liberty fans are here- one even infiltrated the poster-making station and made a pro-Liberty sign.

I do appreciate the Verizon Center security personnel and their common sense. Why not spend the time before the gates open checking bags to speed up the initial rush? Nice folks.

We got free cups! Unfortunately, they're strictly Dunkin' Donuts branded, no Mystics logo.

Dear gods, that was an awful anthem. Too much vibrato. She sounded like one of those tin sheets they use to simulate thunder on stage.

It's 38-30 Mystics at halftime, and we've looked awful. I don't know if I've ever seen so many bad shots- short, wide, left, everywhere but the basket. Kia Vaughn was on fire in the first quarter. I think she takes these games kind of personal. I like Cappie's new 'do. We're not doing well getting around screens, which is a little bit of a problem when Washington likes screens. We need to play smarter here. This might be a little bit of a problem.

Well, we hustled more in the second half, but dear sweet hypothetical baby Jesus rolling over in his manger, we took some of the dumbest shots I have ever seen from a basketball team, and I have seen some dumb basketball teams in my time. Washington forced us out of our comfort zone, and we played right into their plan. We have no way to adapt. I put that on Bill. Either he came up with a crappy plan, or he couldn't get us to listen.

I can't with Sugar Rodgers. I really just can't. I don't understand why she's so high in the rotation, and I don't understand why Bill gives her so many chances. She can shoot, but that doesn't mean she can hit. She got good looks and missed them; she had bad looks and took them. I like that she'll fight for loose balls, but Chucky Jeffery does that too, with fewer bad decisions. Shanece McKinney got some run to give Tina Charles a break, but mostly got into foul trouble. I like her defensive mindset, of course. Alex Montgomery brought the big defense, and I think the flagrant foul on her was a load of malarkey. I question her shooting judgment, but as much for the shots she didn't take as for the shots she took. DeLisha Milton-Jones remained convinced that she had the midrange shot tonight, and she didn't. I love the way she uses those long arms, though. She smothered Stefanie Dolson on a shot where it was clear Dolson hadn't read the scouting report, and had a thunderous spike on an offensive rebound that led to Tina diving for the ball.

Cappie Pondexter and her short new 'do (varnished with the Andy Landers special) was spectacular. She got good looks and hit them. Wasn't notable defensively, but she wasn't asked to be. She looked like the Cappie we expect her to be all the time. Near the end, she forced things a little bit, but she had to, because it was either that or have someone else take a dumb shot. Speaking of dumb shots... Tina Charles, it might behoove you to try to establish yourself down low before you go out and start taking outside jumpers. Or, you know, stop letting your defender slip past you to get to the basket. If you're going to play like this and fall apart whenever Cappie's playing well, we'll take Kelsey and Alyssa and our first-round pick back and you can go be Sulky McChucker in Connecticut again. Essence Carson looked really out of it out there- she all but airballed a free throw in the first half, and I'm starting to wonder if her vision is affecting her more than she wants to let on; combined with the admitted weakness from her knee, I'm really starting to worry about Essence. Plenette Pierson was a gamer inside, but no one seemed inclined to give her the ball. She can be a bit of an offensive catalyst, but not if she doesn't shoot. Anna Cruz played tough defense, but took really bad shots and passed up open looks. I think she might have been pressing a little too much.

So many dumb decisions, so little time. Great hustle, especially in the third quarter, but bad, bad shooting. We lost that game, but Washington made us lose it.

I was surprised to see Monique Currie coming off the bench, and fairly deep into the rotation. She hit a couple of shots but didn't seem to be a major factor. Kara Lawson came in to run the point, take off-balance shots, and tackle like she wanted to play for the football team. I don't know if that's the role she expected to play for Washington when she signed with them. Bria Hartley looked a little rookie-esque out there, but didn't commit any crazy mistakes. The same could not be said for Stefanie Dolson. She played Tina tough early in the game, but Tina got more of an advantage in the second half, and the veterans really worked her over. For some reason, the Mystics were forcing the ball in to her in the last few minutes, and she played like she didn't know what to do with it. If we'd been able to turn it around and sit on Latta, it would have been easy to declare Dolson the goat for freezing up in the clutch. Tianna Hawkins owned all the rebounds- those Maryland players are very good at finding the baseline and grabbing missed shots. Langhorne does it, Thomas does it, Hawkins does it. I think she was trying to extend her range a little, and she was not ready yet, though.

Tierra Ruffin-Pratt was a defensive catalyst, though not a force on the offensive end... well, okay, except for that INSANE wraparound pass to Kia Vaughn for the finish, that was utterly gorgeous. That is not a woman I want to anger. Vaughn, for her part, started the game on fire, but cooled down somewhat after her first rest. I seem to recall that pattern from the game last year too. Maybe that's the way to use her- get as much as you can out of her, wear her out, and then anything else is gravy. Jelena Milovanovic provided a huge match-up difficulty for the Liberty- she used her height on smaller defenders like Essence Carson and took it outside against taller defenders. I could have done without the slide-tackle, but that's the kind of thing you have to learn to live with from opponents. She took a lot of shots and seemed to hit them at the right time. Emma Meesseman did as much to facilitate the offense with screens and pick-and-rolls as she did when she hit shots. I love her footwork. She moves so fast for a big girl. Ivory Latta was pretty quiet for most of the game, but in the clutch, she was cool as a cucumber. The shot that clinched the game, the crossover that led to the dagger three- ice in her veins, no fear. I could have done without the taunting and histrionics afterwards, but that's Ivory Latta for you.

Washington swarmed on defense. They worked well together on offense, and they used each other well. They panicked a little in the second half, but that's a combination of unusual lineups and a young team.

The officiating was pretty sketchy on both sides. I haven't heard the name of Tommy Nuñez in ages, and in retrospect, that was a good thing. I find it hard to believe that glancing contact, even off the forehead, is a flagrant when a slide-tackle isn't. I find it hard to believe that a player getting hit in the head at one end is a no-call and is a flagrant at the other end. There was a lot of stuff by both teams that went uncalled, and what worried me most was the distinct lack of attention paid to feet. Lots of tripping going on, and I worry about that more than I do head shots.

Tierra Ruffin-Pratt and Ivory Latta play a mean game of Pyramid, but I'd love to see Ivory give the clues. Then again, you'd have to tie her to that chair they use in the bonus round, just because she's so physically demonstrative.

Fantastic use of momentum by the winning contestant in the Dunkin' Donuts contest.

I'm amused by the fact that Christy Winters Scott wore that purple dress the last time we were here, too. Does she have a specific outfit for each opponent, or is it just a coincidence?

Katie Smith looked like she stitched together two different tops to make that one. The suit is fantastically sharp, though.

I don't even know what to do with these players. I don't know what to do with this team. Do we know who we are yet?