So Close in D.C., But Mystics Prevail in Extra Sessions
June 18, 2005 at MCI Center (Washington, D.C.)
One of five Mystics starters in double figures, Smith-Taylor scored just three baskets - but all were 3-pointers and two came on consecutive possessions to begin the second overtime session. Indiana, meanwhile, misfired on each of its first three possessions of the final session and Tameka Johnson’s jumper commanded the Mystics (4-6) to an eight-point advantage, 81-73, with 1:17 to play. The Fever got on the board for the first time in the second OT when Tamika Catchings hit a pair of free throws with 1:06 to play, but it was too little, too late, as the Mystics won for the second time in five games and became the first Eastern Conference team to beat the Fever.
The Fever (7-4) is off to its best start in franchise history, but played its third overtime game of the season and its fourth consecutive game decided in OT or by an official's video review at the end of regulation. Two of Indiana's four losses have come in double overtime on the road.
Leading the Mystics from start-to-finish and playing through early foul trouble was Johnson, Washington's diminutive-yet-sensational rookie point who led all scorers with a career-high 21 points on 9-of-11 shooting. She also posted a game-high seven assists while playing across the floor from Fever rookie Tan White, who finished with 17 points.
Others in double-figures for the Mystics were Alana Beard with 18 points, DeLisha Milton-Jones with 17, Chasity Melvin with 14, and Smith-Taylor with 11 – eight of which came in the final session. Washington starters accounted for 81 of the Mystics' season-high 88 points.
For Indiana, Catchings collected her second double-double in four nights, with 20 points and 15 rebounds. Kelly Miller chipped in 11 points and Deanna Jackson joined White off the bench for 10. Natalie Williams finished with a season-best 12 rebounds, but fouled out during the second overtime with just three points on 1-of-7 shooting.
After the Fever rallied to take a 31-30 lead at the intermission, the Mystics led 58-51 with 3:50 remaining in the game to match its largest lead of regulation.
A Tully Bevilaqua 3-pointer and a driving bucket by Tan White surrounded a free throw by Chasity Melvin to bring Indiana with in 59-56 with 2:37 left in regulation. White’s 3-pointer with 1:40 remaining knotted the game at 59, and a layup by Melvin kept the Mystics ahead. A pair of foul shots by Smith-Taylor gave Washington a four-point advantage with less than a minute to play. Kelly Miller’s fallaway jumper with 47 seconds left kept the Fever within 63-61, but Melvin made the first of two free throws for a three-point lead - setting up a deep 3-pointer by Catchings with 24 seconds left. Washington, with a final possession, nearly turned the ball over as the buzzer sounded during a loose ball scamble under the Mystics basket.
The Fever used three treys in the final minutes of regulation to force overtime, but it was the Mystics whose four overtime 3-pointers helped decide the outcome.
Indiana built a 71-68 lead in the opening overtime, but Milton-Jones’ 3-pointer knotted the score with 1:25 to play. Johnson hit a pair of foul shots to put the Mystics up by two, and Jackson’s floating jumper with 25 ticks left tied it to setup another final Mystics possession. This time, with just 3.7 seconds to go, Catchings' foul sent Smith-Taylor to the line for the potential game-winning points, but she missed both.
In all, Washington missed 13-of-35 free throws on the night, but its 22 free throws made more than offset the Fever's 14-of-17 shooting from the charity stripe. Indiana outrebounded the Mystics 43-28, but shot just 38.4 percent from the floor and couldn't overcome the free throw disparity.
After failing to seal the win for Washington at the end of the first OT, Smith-Taylor finally got her points with the quick pair of threes as Indiana found itself playing from behind again. The Mystics hit six free throws in the final minute of the second OT to offset a final 3-pointer from Miller – the Fever’s only field goal of the final session.
While Washington had been idle for seven days before hosting the Fever, the Fever played its fourth straight game down to the wire in eight nights. Now, though, Indiana is off for six days before returning to Conseco Fieldhouse where the it remains unbeaten in five contests. In fact, the Fever opens a five-game homestand June 24 vs. Minnesota, and plays only three games in three weeks before the WNBA All-Star break.