The Washington Mystics were flowing offensively, which led to taking a double-digit lead over the Dallas Wings on Sunday afternoon.
Mystics’ guard Tayler Hill, who finished with a team-high 21 points, led the offensive surge. Forward Tierra Ruffin-Pratt was dominating the mid-range game during the first half and early parts of the second half, while Tianna Hawkins provided a spark off the bench.
However, the Wings came out of the shadows, and found holes in the Mystics defense to stage a comeback. Dallas, who was led by forward Glory Johnson and guard Skylar Diggins-Smith, outscored the Mystics 28-17 in the fourth quarter to escape the Verizon Center with a 87-83 victory.
“This is one our more disappointing losses,” Mystics’ Head Coach Mike Thibault said after seeing a 13-point lead squander away.
When looking at the stat sheet, it’s hard to understand how the Mystics lost their fourth game of the season. The Mystics shot 44.6 percent from the floor, and outscored the Wings 40-30 in the paint. They managed to do that without forward Elena Delle Donne having her best shooting effort.
The only problem with the Mystics performance was that their offensive success didn’t translate to the defensive end.
The Mystics allowed the Wings to get too many open looks especially down the stretch. Diggins-Smith, who finished with 19 points and eight assists, buried a wide open three-pointer to cut the deficit down to one point with 6:17 left in the game. Her shot led to a pair of three-pointers by center Theresa Plaisance that gave the Wings momentum in a time of need.
“We took our foot off the pedal especially on defense,” Delle-Donne said. “There were lapses when we let get in their comfort zone and they were able to knock down some key shots at the end.”
When the Mystics were not allowing easy looks at the basket, they were sending the Wings to the free throw line, where they went 23-29.
“A lot of clean looks at the three-point line,” Thibault said. “And when we did get them off the line, we fouled them and put them on the line.”
Johnson went 5-8 from the line to go along with her 27 points. Karima Christmas-Kelly shot 2-11 from the floor, but she was a perfect 5-5 from the charity stripe. Plaisance and guard Allisha Gray each scored 12 points.
Thibault felt his team’s struggles on defense was caused by the lack of communication on the floor.
“We just didn’t communicate,” Thibault said. “From day one of training camp, we talked about to be a great team you have to be a great communication team, and we didn’t do a good job at that.”
The Mystics’ had a chance to take the lead with under 30 seconds to play, but guard Kristi Toliver missed the go-ahead three pointer.
“We called a play where if you were open take the shot and if someone else is open, hit them,” Delle-Donne said. “We trust Kristi fully with the ball in her hands. That was the right decision and generally she will knock it down.”
Pratt tallied 15 points and six rebounds, Delle-Donne registered 14 points on 4-of-11 shooting. Center Krystal Thomas tallied 10 points, while Hawkins had 13 points.
The Mystics won’t be back in action until Friday when they face the Minnesota Lynx.
“We are about to hit a really rough road stretch,” Delle-Donne said. “So we gotta regroup, get it together and move on.”