Mystics Win the Game but Sun Look Ahead to Playoffs
Uncasville, CT -- In the end, it was all for nothing.
Monique Currie of the Washington Mystics made a three point shot with less than a second remaining in the game to put her team ahead two points for the win against the Connecticut Sun. The Mystics were fighting for final spot in the Eastern Conference Playoffs, while the Sun were locked into third place, and they fought hard to stay alive, coming back from an 11-point halftime deficit.
Ultimately, though, the decision was not in their hands. Alana Beard’s 21 points weren’t enough. Nakia Sanford’s career-high 15 rebounds weren’t enough. Even Monique Currie’s clutch three and the win against the Sun weren’t enough to put the Mystics into the playoffs this year.
Three hours after the Mystics began celebrating their win at the Mohegan Sun Arena, the New York Liberty began celebrating their own win at Madison Square. And with that, the Liberty’s record win-loss record increased to 16-18 and tied the Mystics’, clinching a playoff berth for the Liberty, who had gone 4-1 against Washington on the season and owned the tiebreaker.
"It's bittersweet because we have to wait and see what Chicago and New York do,” Washington coach Tree Rollins said. “I'm very proud of the way they came back in the second half. Down 11, they played their hearts out and left everything on the court. It's a great way to end the season, if it is over for us. I was really happy with the effort and to beat Connecticut on their home court with a sellout crowd. It doesn't get much better than that."
Connecticut, meanwhile was experiencing its own post-game worries. For the second year in a row, the Sun are going into the playoffs on a losing streak, despite their best efforts to win the game. When the Detroit Shock clinched the top playoff seed and their record no longer mattered, they began resting their starters and lost a string of games.
This game didn’t matter for the Sun’s playoff position either; win or loss, they’d be third seed in the East. Sun coach Mike Thibault did rest Asjha Jones, who sprained her ankle a few games ago, but three Sun starters – Lindsay Whalen, Katie Douglas, and Nykesha Sales – played over 30 minutes. And it wasn’t a relaxing game for them, either.
It was impossible for Thibault to play of his starters together for most of the third quarter. Margo Dydek was on the bench with four fouls. Sales was cleaning up her cut lip. And Douglas had taken such a hard bang to her head that she had to sit out a few minutes.
“You know, what can you do?” Sales asked. “You don't want to keep fouling. Margo got in foul trouble. I got two. It just seemed like a lot of those fouls are nothing compared to the type of fouls the other teams are committing."
In the third quarter, the Sun had eight fouls called on them and the Mystics had two. In the fourth quarter, however, the Mystics had eight fouls called and the Sun had three. Fans were booing the officials, who they weren’t happy with even before the game started. Two of the three officials, June Corteau and Josh Tiven, practically got booed off the court at the last Sun home game.
Thibault did not have much to say after the game.
“We played our butts off, but we made some bad mistakes in the second half,” he said. “I was highly disappointed in losing.”
Regarding the officiating, Thibault said, “I wasn’t allowed to get a T tonight.” He had reached his limit of six for the season, and another one would require him to miss the first playoff game. He did send assistant coach Scott Hawk in the complain and take the technical foul at one point during the game.
Looking ahead to the playoffs beginning tomorrow, the Sun are optimistic. They will be playing Indiana who they are 4-0 against on the season.
“We’ll regroup on Tuesday,” Douglas said, “start doing a lot of scouting, make some tweaks, and be ready to go Thursday.”