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Recap: Mystics split two close games

The Washington Mystics were involved in nail-biting finishes against the Dallas Wings and Minnesota Lynx last week.

Dallas Wings v Washington Mystics
Natasha Cloud (jersey #9) and Shakira Austin (jersey #0)
Photo by Scott Taetsch/Getty Images

The Washington Mystics were involved in two close finishes last week. They started off with a narrow win over the Dallas Wings before losing in crushing fashion to the Minnesota Lynx.

Here is a recap of the week and some of the biggest takeaways from the games:

Friday, June 2: Mystics 75, Wings 74

This game was absolute chaos until the final buzzer sounded. Both teams started off slow offensively, but in the second quarter, the Mystics started to gain some momentum. The defense was exceptional as always, holding the Wings to just 30 points in the first half. Midway through the third, the Mystics jumped out to an 11-point lead. From there, chaos began to ensue.

Natasha Cloud would suffer what appeared to be a low leg injury late in the third with the Mystics up 10. With no point guard in the game, the Mystics started turning the ball over at an alarming rate. What was a 10-point lead completely evaporated in just a few minutes. The Wings would go on a 14-2 run to take a 57-55 lead to close the third.

Cloud would return very soon to start the fourth quarter and would help lead a comeback that gave the Mystics a two-point lead. Just when the game appeared to be over, more chaos followed. A questionable turnover in the backcourt by Shakira Austin with just over 40 seconds left in the game would tie the game at 70.

The two teams would exchange free throws near the end of the game, but the madness still was not over.

Rather than dribble out the clock, Brittney Sykes missed a fast break layup which gave Dallas forward Satou Sabally one last 3-point shot to win the game. Fortunately for the Mystics, she would miss the shot and the Mystics would prevail in one of the wildest games of the WNBA season.

Elena Delle Donne finished with 23 points and Austin recorded her third of what is now four double-doubles on the season. She is tied for third in the WNBA in that stat.

Saturday, June 3: Mystics 78, Lynx 80

The Minnesota Lynx entered this game without their impressive rookie Diamond Miller. Despite being without the potential Rookie of the Year, the Lynx found a way, getting 24 points from Kayla McBride and 17 from Napheesa Collier.

Minnesota held the lead for most of the first half until a 10-2 run early in the third gave the Mystics a 42-41 lead. Washington would build a five-point lead with just under four minutes to play in the third. From there, the Lynx would go on an 18-3 run to close the quarter. The Lynx held a 12-point lead to start the fourth, and then the Mystics began to storm back.

The Washington defense was stifling in the fourth, getting transition baskets that helped them tie the game at 67 with five minutes remaining.

Brittney Sykes, who struggled shooting the entire game, made a huge three to tie the game at 78 with seven seconds remaining. Lynx head coach Cheryl Reeve drew up an excellent play out of the timeout. With Collier as the inbounder, the Lynx screened to give Tiffany Mitchell momentum driving to the rim uncontested. She scored on her own putback and the Mystics’ last second heave was unsuccessful.

The Lynx picked up their first win of the season and Washington dropped to fourth in the Eastern Conference.

New player shines in limited minutes

What started out as a training camp contract for Chinese shooting guard Li Meng has now turned into a regular season rotation spot. Meng made her regular season debut in the season opener against New York. In the last three games, she has played few but extremely valuable minutes for Washington. The volume is small, but Meng is a 60-percent 3-point shooter on the year, which is crucial for a team that lacks spacing and has struggled shooting the ball.

In the minutes Meng has played, the Mystics’ 3-point percentage is at 35; without her it drops to 28. There is a noticeable difference in spacing, especially for Delle Donne, when Meng is one pass away.

MHA returns

Myisha Hines-Allen made her season debut last Saturday against Minnesota. She missed the first five games of the season recovering from knee surgery she underwent back in September. Hines-Allen averaged 8.9 points and 5.3 rebounds while shooting 37 percent from three last season. She will be a huge addition to a Mystics team that has lacked bench depth for a good portion of this early season. Expect her minutes to ramp up during this two-game road trip against the Seattle Storm.

Game one is Friday at 10 p.m. ET.