There was still a little more than a minute to play in the first half Sunday, but already it had been a long day for Washington Mystics forward Crystal Langhorne. It’s been a long season for Washington’s lone all-star, for that matter. At that point, her team trailed by 16 and Connecticut’s imposing forwards were crowding her. They kept bumping her, nudging her until her frustration boiled over.
Langhorne turned to the nearest referee and snapped at her. A contingent from Langhorne’s church was in attendance at Verizon Center, and she was glad they were sitting too far away to hear what she had said to earn her first technical foul of the season.
But the abuse, for Langhorne and her team, did not end there.
In fact, much of the pain the Mystics suffered during a 79-48 loss to Connecticut in their home finale was self-inflicted. Washington (6-26) shot a season-low 26.9 percent from the field and hit a season-low for points.
It was yet another in a long line of defeats — their 11th in the last 12 games — and progress in any form is becoming harder to recognize. When asked what positive strides her team has taken over the past few weeks, forward Monique Currie — who played her first game of the season Thursday after recovering from an anterior cruciate ligament tear — pointed to one game in which Washington had put together a strong fourth-quarter effort. That was it.
“I think we are physically and mentally tired,” Coach Trudi Lacey said.
They’re not alone. The Mystics fans that attended Sunday’s home finale could look on the court and see how different their team was from two months ago. The starting lineup featured three new members, two of whom weren’t even on the roster in early July. Rookie point guard Jasmine Thomas (Oakton) guided the offense, and that marked a change, too.
But when the game ended, it seemed that this Mystics squad had not changed much at all in recent months.
On July 3, Washington shot what was then a season-low 31.9 percent from the field in a 10-point home loss to Seattle. It’s difficult to shoot worse than that, players said then; the Mystics’ plight surely had to improve from there.
On Sunday — with several new faces — they made 18 of 67 shots. They needed more than four minutes of the first quarter to tally their first basket, and by that point they trailed by nine. Washington entered the day having never scored fewer than 50 points in a game this season, but could not reach that mark against the Sun (20-12). In no quarter Sunday did the Mystics record more than 13 points.
“Once you start missing, it’s the same thing like if you’re making everything,” Langhorne said. “If you’re making them, the basket gets bigger and bigger. When you’re missing them, the basket just gets smaller and smaller. I think that’s what happened to us tonight.”
●DREAM 73, SHOCK 52: Angel McCoughtry scored 19 points and Atlanta (18-14) clinched a playoff spot with a win over Tulsa (3-28).
●LYNX 86, LIBERTY 68: Maya Moore scored 19 points and Minnesota cruised to a victory over New York (18-14).
Seimone Augustus had 12 points and Georgetown alum Rebekkah Brunson added 10 for the Lynx (25-7), who had already clinched home-court advantage throughout the playoffs.
●FEVER 88, SKY 80: Tamika Catchings and Katie Douglas scored 17 points each to help Indiana hold off Chicago (14-17).
Erin Phillips had 16 points for the Fever (20-11).