WNBA: Washington Suffers Another Loss at the Wire to Chicago
WASHINGTON – In the legendary words of Yogi Berra, “it was déjà vu all over again” for the Chicago Sky and Washington Mystics at the Verizon Center in a key Eastern Conference clash Sunday afternoon.
For the second time in less than 48 hours, the Sky and Mystics battled each other in a game that was decided in the final 10 seconds.
Once again, it was the Sky that was able to apply the finishing touch as Cappie Pondexter scored with 6.7 seconds remaining to lift Chicago to a thrilling 66-64 victory over Washington.
The Sky won the season series, 4-1, and that figure could’ve easily been reversed as the last three games between each squad were decided late.
In Friday’s contest, Allie Quigley sank a 3-pointer with 2.1 seconds left that proved to be the difference.
Following the two weekend victories, the Sky (17-11 overall) leapfrogged the Mystics (15-11) in the Eastern Conference standings and into third place.
“As beautiful of a game that Friday was for fans to watch playoff type basketball, today was reasonably ugly,” Washington head coach Mike Thibault said. “You shoot 33 percent, you turn it over 18 times; probably can’t expect to win and yet we had a chance.
"Cappie made a great shot, we screwed up the defensive part of that but she made a great play. Give them credit.”
While Sunday’s game didn’t feature the high scoring of Friday’s 87-85 Sky victory, it was just as intense and exciting despite the multitude of missed shots.
The Mystics rallied from an 11-point second quarter deficit, held their own in the rebounding battle and tied the game when Kara Lawson sank a 3-pointer from the wing with 28 seconds remaining that brought the crowd out of its seats.
Of course Lawson’s triple, which was reviewed by replay, set the stage for the veteran Pondexter to make the decisive drive of the contest.
Pondexter was asked if the final shot was something that was drawn up by Chicago head coach Pokey Chatman or was it something she saw while on the court.
“It was a combination of both,” Pondexter said. “She wanted the ball in my hands. [Tierra] Ruffin-Pratt opened the lane up and there was no help because we have so many great shooters.
"Allie [Quigley] and Elena Delle Donne were lifted so it is kind of hard to scout that or pick and choose who you want to help on so it was a great call by coach and I am just thankful to God to be healthy enough to make the play.”
Pondexter, one of two Rutgers standouts on the squad, finished with nine points, six below her average.
Delle Donne was her usual solid self despite a tough 7-for-22 shooting performance.
She finished with her WNBA-leading 10th double-double (18 points, 10 rebounds) and four blocked shots. Quigley delivered 15 points off the bench for the Sky, which also got 10 points from center Clarissa Dos Santos.
“This is a tough matchup because the Mystics are very talented team,” Delle Donne said. “I feel like we picked it up defensively when we needed to and that helped us tonight.”
Though the Mystics continued tempting fate by not making a field goal for at least the first three minutes of each quarter, they battled and refused to fold when things weren’t going well.
In the second quarter, the Mystics didn’t make their first field goal until 6:53 into the quarter. Yet, they trailed 35-33 at intermission thanks to an 11-2 run to close the half.
After the Sky scored the first six points of the fourth quarter to grab a 57-50 edge, the Mystics responded with nine straight points to take a 59-57 advantage with 3:13 remaining.
The Sky remained together during the Mystics run despite missing six shots, committing two turnovers and going scoreless for over three minutes of the final period.
“That is something we have kind of struggled with throughout the season when a team makes their run at home, we did not fight back hard enough and I think that with so many games behind us, we are learning now,” Pondexter said. “They made their punches, which is what basketball is all about and I think all 12 of us were tough. We fought back and this is an important win for us.”
Lawson scored a game-high 19 points for Washington. Ivory Latta added 15 points off the bench and Emma Meesseman scored 12 points and grabbed a team-best seven rebounds.
Lawson gave the Mystics their first lead of the game, 43-42 with 5:09 remaining in the third quarter.
“I think you just have to credit them,” Lawson said. “They made one more play than us in both games. One when they were down one and now with the score tied.
"That’s an area for growth for us right now, executing defensively in a possession game down the stretch, communicating. They’re a difficult team to defend because they spread you out and they put you in difficult positions as the defense because they surround the whole court with shooters. We learned some things that we have to be better with going down the stretch.”
Both teams will enjoy a few days off before returning to the court.
The Mystics play their next four games against Western Conference opponents beginning Friday when they host the reigning WNBA champion Phoenix Mercury at 7:00 p.m. The Sky host the Atlanta Dream Saturday night, also at 7:00 p.m.
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