After a winless five-game road stretch, the Mystics were unable to change the course when they returned home to Verizon Center, as they fell 88-81 to the New York Liberty on Wednesday afternoon in DC. The Liberty improved to 18-7 with the win, while the Mystics fell to 9-14.
“It’s definitely a struggle right now with different lineups being thrown out there, but we can’t let that be an excuse. We have to go out there, play as hard as we can. We’ve got to buckle down and help each other, stay together, and play hard,” said Stefanie Dolson, who played one of her best games of the season.
Washington was led by both Dolson, who scored 13 points and pulled down six boards coming off the bench for just the second time this season, and by Emma Meesseman, who scored a game-high 20 points, going 3/5 from beyond the arc.
The Liberty set a WNBA record with 69 bench points, led by Australian Rebecca Allen with 19 points.
The Mystics came out strong in the morning game, drawing energy from the full crowd of campers. The new starting unit, which featured Ivory Latta, Kahleah Copper and Kia Vaughn, helped fuel a 21-8 lead out of the gate. The Liberty would claw back and by the end of the first, Washington led 23-17.
In the second quarter, the Mystics were held to just 14 points, while the Liberty played their strongest frame of the day. While Tianna Hawkins came out with an early jump shot, the Liberty then went on a 12-0 run to take the lead at 29-25, 3:39 into the quarter. The Liberty finished the half with a 10-point lead, ending 20 minutes of play on top of the Mystics 47-37.
“We let them get too big of a run. They’re a great team, number one in the East for a reason. We fought back in the second half, and unfortunately it wasn’t enough,” said Dolson.
During the third quarter, the Mystics went point for point with the Liberty, even bringing the game to a tie halfway through the quarter. However, the Liberty pushed back and kept their lead at ten points going into the final frame.
Dolson stepped up her game in the fourth quarter, scoring early and putting up nine of her 13 points during the frame. With two minutes left in the game, the score was within two baskets. Unfortunately, the late game push was not enough to put the Mystics on top, as New York did just enough to hold off the Mystics’ late run.
The Mystics now have to turn the page and prepare for their final game before the long break.
“We have to be mentally and physically prepared for L.A. to come in here on Friday,” Latta said of the next match-up.
The Mystics host the 20-3 L.A. Sparks on Friday, July 22 at 7 p.m. at Verizon Center for the last game before the Olympic break.