Washington Mystics storm back from 21-point deficit, defeat Chicago Sky


Ivory Latta scores seven of the Washington Mystics’ first eight points of the second half and finishes with a team-high 18 against the Chicago Sky. (Katherine Frey/The Washington Post)
July 24, 2013

Three days after Coach Mike Thibault apologized to fans for an abysmal showing against the Indiana Fever, the Washington Mystics appeared to be headed for a repeat performance Wednesday afternoon against the visiting Chicago Sky. But after falling behind by 21 points in the first half, the Mystics stormed back to take an 82-78 win, taking advantage of the fourth quarter absence of Sky rookie phenom Elena Delle Donne, who left the game in the third quarter with concussion-like symptoms.

“That’s a heck of a win for a lot of reasons,” Thibault said. “When you’re down 21 and you’re kind of wavering about your own individual and team pride, to step up and make a stand like we did was really good.”

After whittling their deficit to nine at halftime, the Mystics (9-9) bolted to an 8-0 run out of the break, with guard Ivory Latta scoring seven of those points. Rookie Tayler Hill then hit a three-pointer with about four minutes left in the third to give Washington its first lead since 2-0, and the teams ended the quarter tied at 56.

Then an unlikely fourth-quarter hero emerged for the Mystics in center Emma Meesseman, who has been inconsistent in limited action of late. The rookie from Belgium hit two jumpers in the first two minutes of the fourth quarter, then forced a steal and took it the length of the court for a layup and a 64-60 Mystics lead.

“We ran a play for her at the start of the fourth quarter, and sometimes in practice she’ll shoot it or pass it up. I told her at the timeout she had to shoot it,” Thibault said. “She stepped up and made it with confidence and I think it got her going.”

Latta, who was named a reserve this week for Eastern Conference all-star team, followed Meesseman’s play with a three-pointer, and all of a sudden Washington found itself with a seven-point lead it wouldn’t relinquish. Meesseman was a big reason why, scoring all of her career-high 12 points in the fourth quarter.

“It felt good. I’m happy to bring something to the game,” said Meesseman, who received extended playing time with Crystal Langhorne limited by back spasms. “The team gave me confidence, they kept saying, ‘Shoot the ball, shoot the ball!’ So I did.”

Delle Donne, the first WNBA rookie to be the all-star game’s top vote-getter, left the game with a minute to go in the third quarter after getting hurt while going for a loose ball. That left Chicago’s offense in the hands of Sylvia Fowles (21 points) and Epiphanny Prince (18), who couldn’t do enough to overcome the recently empowered Washington attack.

The Mystics had four players score in double figures, led by Latta’s 18 points. Hill (11) and Monique Currie (14) also tallied double digits, with Currie leading Washington with nine rebounds.

The win snapped the Mystics’ two-game losing streak and avenged an 89-85 loss to the Sky in Chicago (12-5) earlier this month.

by Chelsea Janes

Three days after Coach Mike Thibault apologized to fans for an abysmal showing against the Indiana Fever, the Washington Mystics appeared to be headed for a repeat performance Wednesday afternoon against the visiting Chicago Sky. But after falling behind by 21 points in the first half, the Mystics stormed back to take an 82-78 win, taking advantage of the fourth-quarter absence of Sky rookie phenom Elena Delle Donne, who left the game in the third quarter with concussion-like symptoms.

“That’s a heck of a win for a lot of reasons,” Thibault said. “When you’re down 21 and you’re kind of wavering about your own individual and team pride, to step up and make a stand like we did was really good.”

After whittling their deficit to nine at halftime, the Mystics (9-9) bolted to an 8-0 run out of the break, with guard Ivory Latta scoring seven of those points. Rookie Tayler Hill then hit a three-pointer with about four minutes left in the third to give Washington its first lead since 2-0, and the teams ended the quarter tied at 56.

Then an unlikely fourth-quarter hero emerged for the Mystics in center Emma Meesseman, who has been inconsistent in limited action of late. The rookie from Belgium hit two jumpers in the first two minutes of the fourth quarter, then forced a steal and took it the length of the court for a layup and a 64-60 Mystics lead.

“We ran a play for her at the start of the fourth quarter, and sometimes in practice she’ll shoot it or pass it up. I told her at the timeout she had to shoot it,” Thibault said. “She stepped up and made it with confidence and I think it got her going.”

Latta, who was named a reserve this week for Eastern Conference all-star team, followed Meesseman’s play with a three-pointer, and all of a sudden Washington found itself with a seven-point lead it wouldn’t relinquish. Meesseman was a big reason why, scoring all of her career-high 12 points in the fourth quarter.

“It felt good. I’m happy to bring something to the game,” said Meesseman, who received extended playing time with Crystal Langhorne limited by back spasms. “The team gave me confidence, they kept saying, ‘Shoot the ball, shoot the ball!’ So I did.”

Delle Donne, the first WNBA rookie to be the all-star game’s top vote-getter, left the game with a minute to go in the third quarter, leaving Chicago’s offense in the hands of Sylvia Fowles (21 points) and Epiphanny Prince (18), who couldn’t do enough to overcome the recently empowered Washington attack.

The Mystics had four players score in double figures, led by Latta’s 18 points. Hill (11) and Monique Currie (14) also tallied double digits, with Currie leading Washington with nine rebounds.

The win snapped the Mystics’ two-game losing streak and avenged an 89-85 loss to the Sky in Chicago (12-5) earlier this month.

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