The shorthanded Washington Mystics had been able to thrive at the start of this season thanks in large part to robust defense in the fourth quarter that masked severe shooting deficiencies, but even Coach Mike Thibault admitted recently that blueprint was not sustainable in the long term.

Against the Tulsa Shock on Friday night, for instance, wayward three-point shooting and a depleted roster conspired to send the Mystics to a second loss in three games, 86-82, in front of an announced 7,099 at Verizon Center that included the Washington Capitals’ Alex Ovechkin.

The Mystics (3-2) missed 16 of 20 from beyond the arc for their lowest three-point percentage this season. The starting back court of Ivory Latta and Kara Lawson combined to shoot 1 for 12 from that distance, and the only Mystics player with multiple three-pointers was rookie forward Ally Malott (2 of 3).

“That’s just not a good recipe right there,” Thibault said. “We need to shoot 33 to 36 percent from three to be a great team, and we’re not doing that on a consistent basis, and so I went with a defensive lineup pretty much down the stretch and tried to win it that way.”

Emma Meesseman helped the Mystics come all the way back from a 10-point deficit late in the third quarter by setting career highs with 24 points and six blocks while adding 10 rebounds. The 6-foot-4 Belgian made 11 of 15 from the field and was the only starter to shoot 50 percent other than Armintie Herrington going 1 for 1.

Malott added 13 points, five rebounds, two assists and two steals in her second straight game in double-figure scoring. She made 1 of 2 foul shots to tie the score at 76 with 3 minutes 29 seconds left, and moments later Lawson’s three-pointer gave Washington a 79-78 lead.

The Mystics went ahead 82-81 with 45 seconds to play on 1 of 2 foul shots from Tierra Ruffin-Pratt, but Plenette Pierson’s turnaround floater reclaimed the lead for good for the Shock (5-1), which won its fifth in a row. Tulsa all-star guard Skylar Diggins added two free throws with 16 seconds remaining, and the Mystics’ last hope faded when Lawson missed a three-pointer with 3.9 seconds to go.

“It was a good look. Just missed it,” Lawson said. “It’s unfortunate. Down three and had a chance to tie it, but I think was as good a look as we could have hoped for with them knowing obviously we were down three.”

Pierson matched a game high with 24 points for Tulsa, and reserve guard Riquna Williams added 22, including 4 of 8 from three-point range. The Shock made 8 of 20 from beyond the arc despite being without injured guard Odyssey Sims, out for a third consecutive game with a sore knee.

The Mystics’ injury situation, meanwhile, continues to allow less experienced players to log court time when otherwise they may have been merely observers from the bench. At the start of the second quarter, the lineup was Meesseman, Ruffin-Pratt and Malott in the front court with Tayler Hill and rookie Natasha Cloud at guard.

Normally a power forward, Meesseman had to play center in that rotation because of foul trouble to starter Stefanie Dolson, who has started four games in place of ailing Kia Vaughn. Vaughn was nursing a hip flexor suffered in training camp and most recently has been undergoing concussion protocol, leaving her day-to-day.

Washington also was without guard Bria Hartley. The No. 7 pick in last year’s WNBA draft has not played this season because of a stress fracture in her right foot. Hartley appears close to be making her first appearance in the lineup though after participating in pregame shoot-around while wearing orthotics that arrived hours before tip-off.

DREAM 74, SKY 73: Angel McCoughtry made a 16-foot jumper at the buzzer to lift host Atlanta to a victory over Chicago.

FEVER 80, LIBERTY 63: Maggie Lucas hit five three-pointers and scored a career-high 23 points, and Indiana cruised to a win at New York.

LYNX 74, STARS 59: Seimone Augustus had 18 points, and visiting Minnesota put four players in double figures in a victory over winless San Antonio.

This article includes material from the Associated Press.