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2nd half meltdown seals Mystics' fate vs. Storm

The Seattle Storm continue to show a tremendous amount of fight, as they made a serious second half comeback to beat the Washington Mystics.

Photo by CJ Webb

Seattle, WA -- It was a contest defined by rebounding and free throws as Seattle secured a massive 69-59, come from behind victory over the visiting Washington Mystics Sunday in Seattle.

Washington got off to a hot start, building 8-2 lead forcing a Seattle timeout. The Storm would answer going on a 9-0 run to claim their first lead of the night.

Washington responded by outscoring Seattle 14-4.

The Mystics 50% shooting for the quarter left Jenny Boucek scrambling to find a lineup that could slow the blistering scoring and intense rebounding from Washington. In the first 10 minutes, the Mystics would hit 9/18 from the floor to Seattle's 6-17, while out-rebounding the home squad 13-6.

The second quarter belonged to Washington as Seattle committed three fouls in the first 80 seconds trying to find a way to stop the red hot Mystics.

By the 5:42 mark, Washington had built its lead to 28-15. It was then that an errant Mystics jumper became stuck on the rim. Neither Quanitra Hollingsworth nor Jewell Loyd (both of whom can grab rim) attempted to retrieve the ball. Instead, it was left to Jeremy Stevens who was sitting courtside with his wife, Hope Solo.

After the stoppage in play, the Storm would finally begin to show signs of life as they outscored the Mystics 15-11 the rest of the quarter behind the relentless attacking of Loyd and the play of Crystal Langhorne. Despite the poor shooting and performance from Seattle, they would inexplicably trail Washington by only nine at 39-30 at the break.

Seattle would make their move in the third, capitalizing on defensive adjustments to out rebound the Mystics 7-2 while also shooting lights out 75% from the floor to outscore Washington 20-9 in the period. Washington would be held scoreless for the final 5:11 of the third allowing Seattle to take a 50-48 lead into the final quarter.

"There were definitely some things we talked about at halftime, wanting to do better." Said Storm guard Sue Bird " It seemed like they were really trying to go inside and we were letting them get way too deep. We had to do a better job of (stopping) that."

The run would continue into the 4th as Seattle would hold Washington without a point until the 6:02 mark of the period. In total, Washington was held scoreless for 8:47 straight spanning the 3rd and 4th quarters. The frustration of the Mystics would boil over as first head coach Mike Thibault, and then Ivory Latta would receive technical fouls.

"I just felt like we had momentum then kind of relaxed" explaind Mystics head coach Mike Thibault" Once you relax and let a team get going,"  "then their confidence gets going. They outplayed us badly in the second half."

Seattle would capitalize to build an eight-point lead before the Mystics finally were able to score.

Washington would pull to within two at 57-55 with just over four minutes to play, but Seattle would prevent them from getting any closer, claiming their second consecutive victory.

"We came together and we fought back." Said Loyd after the victory "We got more aggressive. We made plays for each other and our defense was on point tonight…We knew we had to step it up a notch, get in a good rhythm, defensive rhythm and that’s what we did."

The difference in the two halves came in from the massive discrepancy in free throw attempts. In the first half, Washington would try eight foul shots to Seattle's nine. In the second half, Seattle attempted 25 while the Mystics only attempted a single free throw. The chief culprit was Loyd, who would set a new Storm franchise record gong 14-14 from the stripe.

" That’s as bad as we’ve played," lamented Thibault. "both in common sense and not sticking with stuff, passing up open shots, fouls … although 25 to 1 free throws is pretty interesting for a half."

Seattle was led by the 18 points and five rebounds from Loyd. Joining her in double figures were Langhorne (15 points) and Sue Bird (12 points) in the win.

The Mystics were led by the 12 points of Latta and also received double-figure performances from Emma Meeseman (10 points, six rebounds) and Kia Vaughn (10 points)