Washington, D.C. -- Even though Washington is the team headed to the playoffs, they still had something to prove in today's game. They were 0-3 against the Atlanta Dream so far this season and came into today with a vengeance.
The Mystics were off to a quick start. Ruffin-Pratt almost immediately had a steal, followed by two points from Dolson. A few minutes later, Ivory Latta started doing Ivory Latta things for Washington. After nearly breaking Carter's ankles, she pulled it back for a three-pointer. Ruffin-Pratt followed her lead about a minute later with a three of her own.
McCoughtry started to get frustrated after two questionable fouls called on her late in the first quarter. She seemed to use that as motivation to get a steal, then close out the quarter with a swift layup. With that, McCoughtry led her team with five points and closed the Mystics lead to just six. The Dream's seven points were the fewest they had scored in a quarter all season.
Both teams came out aggressive to start the second quarter. Unfortunately, Atlanta was still unable to slow down the Mystics offense. The Washington bench stole the show. Three players, Hill, Vaughn, and Malott, had five points.
The Dream finally found some momentum after a steal by Lyttle, resulting in a field goal by Hayes with just over two minutes left in the half. Atlanta was able to hold Washington to only two points for the remainder of the half, while scoring seven themselves. At the break, the Mystics still held onto a lead of ten, with a score of 34-24.
The second half started fast for both the Mystics and Dream. Latta and Meesseman really took control for their team, while Atlanta looked to multiple names, including Schimmel, Gray, McCoughtry and Cortijo, in order to start their comeback. At the end of the third, they decreased the Mystics lead to a mere two points.
The score differential never strayed far from two during the fourth quarter. The always-reliable McCoughtry was the go-to person for the Dream, as she scored 13 in the last quarter alone.
With just over four minutes left in regulation, the game was tied at 63. It was not much longer before Atlanta took the lead, and eventually, the game. They won with a final score of 73-71.
While the first half was somewhat one-sided, this game turned out to be a fight to the end. Atlanta was looking to end their season with a win, and that is just what they were able to do on the road today. They remain undefeated against the Mystics this season.
"We have a new foundation, a new thought on life out on the basketball court," said McCoughtry, regarding what is next for the team. "We're building for a championship now. It starts right now at the end of this season, at the end of this win."
Washington blew a big lead, but, fortunately for them, their season is not over. The Mystics will put this game behind them and focus on the playoff road ahead.
"Going into the playoffs, it is 0-0," said Latta, when asked about their mentality going into the post-seaason. "We worked hard to get to this position, but we are not going to get complacent just making the playoffs. We gotta be focused."