In a heartbreaking final minute, the Mystics fell 86-82 to the Tulsa Shock on Friday night at Verizon Center, the team’s second straight home loss. A spectacular performance from Emma Meesseman (career-high 24 points, 10 rebounds, six blocks) was not enough to outlast the WNBA’s top scoring team.
“I think we’ve got to give Tulsa a little bit of credit,” Coach Mike Thibault said. “There’s a reason they’re 5-1. They’re playing well, Plenette Pierson and Riquna Williams, in particular, were spectacular.”
Though Washington beat out Tulsa on the boards, the Shock did what they do best: score. Despite shooting 41% from the field to the Mystics’ 44, the Shock attempted six more shots and outshot the ‘Stics from behind the arc by twenty percent.
But Washington would not go down without a fight. With the game tied at 81-81 with a minute remaining, Williams, who added a season-high 22 points for Tulsa on the night, fouled Tierra Ruffin-Pratt sending her to the line. Ruffin-Pratt made one of two giving the Mystics a one-point lead. The Shock used their last time-out to draw a play resulting in Pierson, the team’s leading scorer with 24 points, hitting a turnaround hook shot for two.
“I thought Tierra Ruffin-Pratt did a good job on Riquna in the fourth quarter to shut her down, but Pierson and Emma just battled it out. They both were great,” Thibault said. “We’re just undersized trying to play a team like them.”
With 36 seconds on the clock, Tulsa had the one point advantage. Stefanie Dolson, who contributed heavily on both ends of the court for the ‘Stics despite early foul trouble, drove to the basket but missed the jump shot and Pierson grabbed the rebound, her fifth of the night. 16 seconds remained in the game and Ruffin-Pratt fouled Skylar Diggins, who has shot 85% from the charity stripe this season, to stop the clock. Diggins made both and the Mystics were down three with possession of the ball. Due to a tough defensive effort from the Shock, Washington struggled to get a good shot off and Kara Lawson attempted a desperation 3-pointer that was off the mark. In a last ditch effort with three seconds on the clock, Meesseman fouled Pierson who made one of two to end the game.
“It’s just tough losing at home,” Thibault said. “This one, although it hurts, we played a good team. The one last Friday against Atlanta, I felt like we gave away. Tonight, Tulsa earned [it].”
Despite not receiving the outcome they wanted, the sting of a loss was brightened by individual performances that could be a preview of what is still to come this season. With WNBA All-Star voting beginning this week, Meesseman made a strong case for her spot on the roster.
“Obviously, Emma was sensational tonight,” Thibault said. “That’s a star right there playing right now.”
The forward had a career night with both six blocks and 24 points in addition to 10 rebounds. Yet, Meesseman was not satisfied by her individual performance.
“I can say I’m happy about [having a career night], but I’m not,” Meesseman said. “So if I could change it or my points to win the game, I’d be more happy.”
Rookie Ally Malott also continued to shine for Washington. Coming off a team win against the Liberty Sunday in which she posted her first career points, Malott topped her previous high contributing 13 points, five rebounds and two assists off the bench on 50% shooting.
“I had an air ball in the first half, I kind of maybe got my nerves out a little bit,” Malott said. “I think as the season progresses, I’ll get a little more confident. I think that always happens, it’s true for everyone.”
Dolson and Lawson also finished in double digits for the Mystics. Dolson contributed 10 points, nine rebounds and three blocks, while Lawson added six assists and 10 points of her own. The ‘Stics will have their chance to boost their confidence and seek revenge when they travel to Tulsa July 21st, but must bounce back quickly from the tough loss. Less than 24 hours after the conclusion of the game, Washington will take on the Fever Saturday at Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis.