UNCASVILLE, CT., Consistency was problematic for the Mystics and Sun, as two of the youngest team in the league battled back-and-fourth in triple overtime. This was the first time since 2002 that the Sun played in triple-overtime. After 55 minutes of play, Washington defeated Connecticut 109-106 at Mohegan Sun Arena on June 14. Connecticut's 106 points was the fifth-most in franchise history.
"Great game," said Connecticut coach Curt Miller. "That's a classic, hard for any team to lose, unfortunately, we were at the short end of that, but I was proud of our kid's effort and our fight tonight.
"We didn't have great execution on last plays, but we were aggressive, and you can't count on officials to make a call on the last play of the game. You have to make that shot. But we were aggressive."
The Sun was short-handed as rookie Morgan Tuck debuted in her first career start, after replacing Alyssa Tomas in the starting lineup due to concussion protocol. Tuck's toughest challenge was covering Emma Meesseman, who is in the midst of having the best season of her career.
Although young Tuck scored the first field goal of the game, Meesseman was nearly unstoppable with 23 points, as she oversees the whole court and works as the team's playmaker.
Connecticut trailed by six points with three minutes remaining in the first, but the Sun worked in unison ending with a four-point lead (27-23) in the closing minutes. Washington began to push their dominance and generated offensive rhythm by outscoring Connecticut, but the seesaw battle continued as the Sun led by four and trailed by nine, while the Mystics had a two-point lead (44-42) at the half.
As the third quarter unveiled, both teams fought their way through lulls and fiery energy. Once again the game was back-and-forth, as both teams struggled with turnovers, but the Mystics led by one-point (57-56) after the third.
The final period shaped up to be a showdown. The game was at a deadlock, tied 79-79 with 2.1 seconds left in the fourth. For the second time this season, both teams needed an extra five minutes; no excuse me 15 minutes, to determine a winner.
The Mystics blew a five-point lead, as Alex Bentley made a huge three-pointer to tie the game, 86-86. With 18.3 seconds remaining, Natasha Cloud mishandled the ball with a shot clock violation, while Thomas missed a layup pushing the game into double-overtime. Camille Little gave Connecticut their first overtime lead, but both teams remained on the seesaw ending double overtime, 95-95.
Exhaustion set in as the game headed into triple overtime.
"The legs are a little heavy, I just told myself that this was like a three-hour practice," commented Kia Vaughn.
Kelsey Bone missed her second free throw to tie the game, but the Sun grabbed another opportunity with 15 seconds remaining, but failed to execute. The marathon came to an end, as Washington clinched the win.
The Mystics win could account for the fact that they scored 31 of 33 from the free throw line combined with Taylor Hill's 10 points in triple-overtime.
Washington head coach Mike Thibault commented on Hill's performance: "Thank God because the start of her night tonight was 1 for 8. I told her she was too wound up at the start of the game and I told her just to relax, and her turn will come if she just let the game come back to her and to her credit she did."
While this win was bittersweet for the Mystics, Sun's Bentley had a standout performance, tying her career-high of 31 points. Bone's season-high of 22 points and 11 rebounds resulted in her third double-double of the season, while Vaughn added defensively with 7 rebounds.
Bentley commented, "I am going to play my game. When I have a shot I am going to take it, when I want to drive, I am going to drive. It is basketball; you gotta play and not think too much."
The Sun faces the New York Liberty at home, Thursday, June 16. Tip-off is set for 7 o'clock.