Even as the missed three-pointers, layups and turnovers continued to add up, the Washington Mystics still were in position to escape with an improbable victory against the San Antonio Stars on Sunday at Verizon Center.
The Mystics managed to take the lead twice in the fourth quarter and trailed by one when Monique Currie scored six straight points, the last with less than four minutes to play. But breakdowns the rest of the way kept the Mystics scoreless for the final 3 minutes 18 seconds and yielded a 73-65 loss in front of an announced 7,203.
Washington (7-10) had a two-game winning streak snapped and has lost five of seven and eight of its past 11 games to stand in fourth place in the Eastern Conference halfway through the regular season. The Mystics trail the first-place Atlanta Dream by five games in their bid to make the playoffs for a second consecutive season.
“The only word I can use to describe tonight is aggravating,” Mystics Coach Mike Thibault said. “We wasted a pretty good rebounding effort. Our turnovers were low for the most part, but they turned into points, particularly in the first half. I think they got 12 points in the first half off of our turnovers, and that got them the lead.”
The Mystics, meanwhile, missed their first 11 three-point attempts on the way to 2-for-17 shooting from distance and failed to convert four layups. They committed nine of their 12 turnovers in the first half. That helped stake San Antonio (8-8) to a double-digit lead for much of the first 20 minutes and allowed the WNBA’s top three-point shooting team to make 7 of 15 (47 percent) overall from beyond the arc.
When Washington won in San Antonio, 81-70, on Tuesday night, the Stars shot only 13 percent from three-point range. Five days later, guard Becky Hammon opened with four consecutive three-pointers, and forward Danielle Adams made two in a row immediately after halftime.
“The three-point ball makes or breaks them,” Currie said. “When they’re hitting, they’re winning games. We were able to slow them down from the three-point line down in San Antonio, but we weren’t able to do that tonight.”
Currie did her part offensively with a game-high 18 points before fouling out with 30 seconds to play. The Mystics’ longest-tenured player shot 7 for 14, including several off-balance jumpers as the shot clock expired, and added seven rebounds, but she missed all three of her three-point attempts.
Point guard Ivory Latta scored 10 of her 14 points in the second half and chipped in five rebounds. Latta’s three-pointer with 2:03 left in the third quarter was Washington’s first of the game and ignited an 11-2 outburst that trimmed the margin to 54-53.
Two free throws from guard Kara Lawson gave Washington its first lead at 58-56 since it scored the first basket of the game, and the Mystics led 59-58 when forward Tianna Hawkins made 1 of 2 foul shots a minute later. The Stars countered with eight straight points, reclaiming the lead for good on rookie forward Kayla McBride’s jumper from the left wing with 6:48 left in regulation.
Hammon led San Antonio with 17 points, four assists and three rebounds and was one of five Stars players to reach double figures. Guard Danielle Robinson had 15 points and five assists, and McBride added 12 points, four rebounds and one assist without a turnover.
“It just wasn’t falling,” Latta, who had a critical turnover in the final 40 seconds, said of Washington’s three-point travails. “We can’t hold our heads. You’ve got to keep shooting, and we had an opportunity to go ahead, and we just didn’t seize the opportunity.”
● LIBERTY 67, SUN 65: Tina Charles and Cappie Pondexter scored 14 points apiece to help New York win at home.
Trailing 63-52 early in the fourth quarter, the Sun (8-8) rallied behind Alex Bentley and Chiney Ogwumike. Bentley scored seven points and Ogwumike added four during a 13-3 run that made it 66-65 with 2:21 left. After Ogwumike missed a free throw that would have tied it, Connecticut had three chances to take the lead but couldn’t convert.
New York (5-11) couldn’t extend the lead, and the Sun had one last chance at victory after Anna Cruz missed a three-pointer from the corner with 31 seconds left.
● MERCURY 80, SHOCK 77: Brittney Griner blocked 11 shots to set a single-game WNBA record and added 21 points in Phoenix’s victory in Tulsa.
Penny Taylor went 10 for 10 on free throws to finish with 17 points for the Western Conference-leading Mercury (10-3).
Skylar Diggins, Odyssey Sims and Glory Johnson scored 16 points apiece for Tulsa (6-9).
● LYNX 74, STORM 69: Janel McCarville scored a season-high 22 points and Minnesota beat Seattle in Minneapolis.
Maya Moore added 14 points for the Lynx (12-5), who have won three of four. Seimone Augustus, Minnesota’s second leading scorer at 17.2 points per game, missed the game with bursitis in her left knee.
Sue Bird scored 21 points to lead Seattle (7-11).
● DREAM 76, FEVER 68: Angel McCoughtry scored 12 of her 20 points in the second half, and Atlanta (11-4) overcame some sloppy play late to escape with a win over Indiana (6-9) in Indianapolis.