“I’ll put that on me, honestly,” guard Ariel Atkins said. “I need to be more aggressive. I can’t come out the gate being passive. I have to be more aggressive so that we can have a more balanced scoring sheet.
“[Coming out with a sense of urgency is] something that we need to reinforce as a priority. … Within this game and how good this league is, it’s something that we need to constantly remind each other of — to come out with urgency and aggressiveness.”
The Mystics’ Tina Charles was marvelous again. The league’s top scorer posted 27 points and 10 rebounds, but she didn’t get much help. Guard Leilani Mitchell continued her hot shooting with 14 points, including four three-pointers, and added seven assists. Atkins, playing through a sore back, had 11 points, five rebounds, four assists and four steals but shot just 4 for 14.
“We need other people to step up and make shots,” Mystics Coach Mike Thibault said. “Megan [Gustafson] and Shavonte [Zellous] did a decent job, but it’s tough when two games in a row we’ve had two or three people that start have not great shooting nights. When you’re shorthanded and you’re tired, you have to make those shots, and we’re not right now. But that’s just the way it is.”
On the other end of the floor, Washington had no answer for Arike Ogunbowale, who scored a season-high 30 points for the Wings (8-8). Satou Sabally added 12 points, eight rebounds and five assists. The opposing bench poured in points for the second consecutive game; Allisha Gray scored 14, and Isabelle Harrison chipped in 10.
The Wings, who took a 46-30 lead into halftime, played fast, and Washington again looked tired, as it had in its 89-82 loss Thursday at the Los Angeles Sparks.
“We’re basically just in survival mode at the moment,” Thibault said before the game.
Charles, like Atkins, pointed to the Mystics’ lack of early urgency. The Mystics outscored the Wings 25-20 in the third quarter but were already in a deep hole.
“Alysha Clark had mentioned it at the end of the game,” Charles said. “We have to be very aware of how we start games, and that urgency that we had at the beginning of the third was the same urgency that we definitely needed from the beginning of the game.”
The Wings shot 6 for 14 from behind the arc in the first half, when the Mystics were 3 for 14. Thibault switched out Sydney Wiese for Zellous to start the second half, and that seemed to help on both ends. Wiese is still dealing with an ankle injury, Thibault said. She finished with two points on 1-for-6 shooting and was a negative-25 in plus-minus.
“We do put some stock into [plus-minus],” Thibault said. “That’s kind of why I made one of the changes at halftime. Shavonte was giving us a decent amount, and when you lose, you’re going to be a minus no matter what. You guys can make of it what you want. I’ll keep my thoughts about the rest of it to myself.”
The Mystics return home to host the Connecticut Sun on Tuesday with hopes that Natasha Cloud (ankle) and Myisha Hines-Allen (knee) may be able to return. Erica McCall (knee) will remain out until after the Olympic break. The Mystics will play three games over two weeks after having three games in five days, which should provide some rest and a chance to get those banged-up starters back.
“Thank God this road trip is over,” Zellous said. “We can go back home, regroup, get back together and focus on our games that’s coming up this week.
“I just think [we were] a team that fought hard [after] losing so many pieces due to injuries right now. What we did great on his road trip was we stayed together and we fought through everything, whether it was good or bad. We know everything is not going to be perfect and it ain’t going to be glitter and gold. We’ve just got to remain together.”
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