WNBA: Mystics' Smith Chills Fever
WASHINGTON -- The new spice in the Washington Mystics' lineup continues to help find ways to overcome seasoned teams.
A year ago the Indiana Fever owned the Mystics with a perfect record in the series and then dispatched Washington in the first round of the playoffs on the way to the Eastern Conference title.
But there has been change in the Verizon Center located down the road from where the current White House tenant is also an advocate of change.
All-Star Katie Smith, the former Ohio State star and Olympian who helped the former Detroit Shock to several WNBA titles, arrived in the offseason as a free agent signee.
Smith continues to be a free spirt on the court. Tuesday night she nailed 5 of 7 three-point shots and finished with 21 points as the Mystics dispatched the Fever from a three-way deadlock in second place courtesy of a hotly contested 68-65 victory.
She made two free throws to help get Washington to the finish line but also missed a pair that gave the Fever lingering hope until former Rutgers star Matee Ajavon came up with a steal to close the door.
Wilingborho, N.J.'s Crystal Langhorne didn't score career marks in this one, but the former Maryland star who is the reigning Eastern Conference player of the week still had an impressive night with 14 points and 10 rebounds.,
Tamika Catchings, oine of 10 All-Star selectees by the fans announced during the game Tuesday, scored 17 point for Indiana (9-6), which fellto fourth and is done for the week.
The Mystics (10-5) stayed tied with Connecticut for second unable to move closer to first due to the Atlanta Dream's rally over the Phoenix Mercury.
Washington goes to Phoenix Thursday and then on to Tulsa on Saturday.
"It's not always easy and I could have made life a lot easier at the end by hitting those two," Smith said afterwards.
"Bottom line is it keeps us in the hunt," she continued. "We;re just going to keep battling and win as many games as we can."
Langhorne spoke of being defended intensely by Indiana.
"They made it really tough, they just weren't going to let me get easy baskets," she said. "Everyone else stepped up, and Katie had a great game, everyone knows shes a great shooter."
Washington coach Julie Plank spoke of the total team effort that included a 35-24 rebounding advantage and a 16-4 differential on second-chance points.
"We are a great rebounding team," Plank said. "Every night you can count on Crystal for 10 or plus rebounds. Our offensive rebounding hurt them a lot. And those are just effort, energy and wanting to win.