A game that began with the promise of the Washington Mystics winning their fourth in a row unraveled. They failed to protect a 16-point lead and were unable to overcome sloppy ballhandling and wayward three-point shooting during a 64-61 loss to the Indiana Fever on Friday night at Verizon Center.
Playing its second game in as many nights and the second leg of three games in four days, Washington (4-3) had its winning streak halted amid 17 turnovers, including 11 in the second half, missing 13 of 15 from beyond the arc and misfiring on multiple attempts inside of three feet. The Mystics also wasted a 40-29 edge in rebounding and a 23-for-25 showing from the free throw line.
“We were an awful offensive basketball team tonight,” said Mystics Coach Mike Thibault, whose team shot 29.5 percent before 7,155 fans. “Absolutely awful. If we had shot a little over 30 percent we could have won the game. We can’t make shots. Our best shooters aren’t making shots, and we missed layups.”
Rookie guard Bria Hartley led the Mystics with 16 points and nearly brought Washington back when it trailed 59-49 with 5 minutes 55 seconds left in regulation. The No. 7 pick in April’s WNBA draft sank a three-pointer with 2:52 to play to draw Washington within 59-54. Her three-point play with 17 seconds to go trimmed the deficit to 61-59, and her layup with 10 seconds left made it 62-61.
But Marissa Coleman, who played her first three seasons with the Mystics, made a pair of foul shots with nine seconds to play for the final points. Fever forward Natasha Howard then blocked Hartley’s three-point attempt, and the Mystics were unable to get off another shot before time expired.
“We played hard,” Hartley said. “We had a good effort. Everyone went out there and kind of crashed the boards a little bit, but we just have to play smarter, and I think that’s what set us back this game.”
Point guard Ivory Latta had 12 points but missed 6 of 7 from three-point range for the Mystics, who scored nine points in the third quarter. Rookie center Stefanie Dolson (10 points, nine rebounds) was the only other Washington player in double figures.
Coleman scored 13 of her game-high 20 points in the first half for Indiana (4-3). Center Erlana Larkins chipped in 13 points and nine rebounds for the shorthanded Fever, which ran its winning streak to four games despite missing ailing leading scorer Briann January and Olympian Tamika Catchings.
The Mystics opened their largest lead at 23-7 early in the second quarter following nine consecutive points. The run bridged the first and second quarters and included 5-for-5 shooting from the foul line.
Trailing by nine at halftime, Indiana began carving into the deficit by scoring the first eight points of the third quarter. The Mystics extended the lead to five before a 9-2 surge gave Indiana its first lead at 43-41 on a three-pointer by rookie guard Maggie Lucas.
The Fever closed the third quarter with eight straight points for a 50-43 lead. Washington wound up with two field goals in the third quarter and did not make a basket over the final 5:38.
“We’ve got to have more energy,” Latta said. “We’re not going to make this back-to-back an excuse. We’ve just got to do the little things. We had too many turnovers once again.”
● SPARKS 102, SKY 88: Nneka Ogwumike and Kristi Toliver scored 18 points each to lead Los Angeles over Chicago in Rosemont, Ill.
Candace Parker added 17 points for the Sparks (3-3), who snapped a two-game losing streak and set franchise records for field goals made (43) and assists (31).
Elena Delle Donne, the reigning WNBA rookie of the year, had a career-high 33 points and 14 rebounds for the Sky.
● SHOCK 94, MERCURY 78: Host Tulsa capitalized on four players in double figures for its first win this season after five losses.
Rookie Odyssey Sims scored 21 points while backcourt mates Skylar Diggins and Riquna Williams finished with 20 and 17, repectively, for the Shock.
Diana Taurasi scored 22 points for Phoenix.