The game plan for the Washington Mystics on Friday night wasn’t exactly complicated, but then it didn’t need to be with the way Emma Meesseman was shooting in their 69-63 victory over the Connecticut Sun. Teammates simply needed to get the ball to the second-year forward and let her go to work.
Even when Meesseman missed, which was just three times in 14 attempts, the 6-foot-4 Belgian center with a soft touch frequently was there to retrieve her stray shot. The resulting career highs of 22 points and 13 rebounds propelled the Mystics in front of an announced 7,119 at Verizon Center.
“I don’t even know what to say. Emma Meesseman, that was sensational,” said Mystics Coach Mike Thibault, whose team won its second in a row following four straight losses and seven in eight games.
Meesseman had 10 points and seven rebounds during Washington’s 23-10 outburst in the third quarter as it built a double-digit lead. Then the Mystics held off a comeback bid in the fourth quarter, when the margin was down to six points on several occasions.
It was the third double-double this season for Meesseman and her second in a row. She had 10 points, 13 rebounds and six assists in an 81-70 road win against the San Antonio Stars on Tuesday night.
“I’m just very happy to be back home,” Messeeman said, referring to Washington’s recently completed four-game road trip. “We had good energy and good flow since the beginning of the game.”
Meesseman made the first two field goals for Washington (7-9) in the final period, and when rookie center Stefanie Dolson sank an 18-foot jumper soon after, the lead grew to 60-50 with 4 minutes 59 seconds left in regulation. The Sun countered with a jumper from Katie Douglas (team-high 18 points) and two free throws from center Kelsey Bone, but Washington center Kia Vaughn’s hook shot caromed in off the glass to push the lead back to eight.
When Connecticut (8-7) drew within two possessions moments later, Vaughn (12 points) collected a rebound off rookie guard Bria Hartley’s missed three-pointer and put it back with 2:24 to play. The Mystics closed the game by making 5 of 6 from the free throw line to end Connecticut’s six-game winning streak, which was the longest active run in the WNBA.
“She’s an incredible player,” Mystics point guard Ivory Latta said of Meesseman, who added three steals, two blocks and two assists with one turnover. “I have to say an underrated player. People don’t really pay too much attention to her, but like I said, she does the little things that show up in the stat sheet. She’s an unbelievable player.”
The victory was all the more satisfying given the Mystics were without several regular contributors. Guard Kara Lawson was not with the team because of dehydration, and forward Jelena Milovanovic sat out with a right knee strain. Both players are day-to-day.
Despite being shorthanded, Washington outrebounded the Sun 38-25, including 16-9 on offensive rebounds. That advantage allowed the Mystics to overcome 17 turnovers and shoot a shade below 40 percent. The Mystics also had four starters reach double-figure scoring during a game in which Thibault challenged his players with a passionate halftime speech.
“It lit a fire in our behinds,” Vaughn said. “He was frustrated with the first half. We saw it also, but sometimes you just need to be yelled at in order to get going.”
Epiphanny Prince had 30 points as the Chicago Sky posted a 73-69 win at the New York Liberty.
Chicago was missing star forward Elena Delle Donne, who is sidelined indefinitely with a recurrence of Lyme disease.
Tina Charles had 16 points and Georgetown graduate Sugar Rodgers had 12 for the Liberty, which has lost six of seven games.
● MERCURY 81, FEVER 76: Diana Taurasi scored 23 points and Penny Taylor added 20 to help the Mercury rally from 13 points down to win at Indiana.
Shavonte Zellous led the Fever with 18 points.