Game Recap: Fever 80, Mystics 81 (Preseason) Staff | May 7, 2014

WASHINGTON – Kayla Thornton hit a pair of free throws with 0:00.8 seconds left on the clock as the Washington Mystics overcame a 17-point fourth-quarter lead and beat the Indiana Fever, 81-80 at Verizon Center in WNBA preseason action.

Washington’s only lead of the game came at the final buzzer, following a transition foul called at midcourt against Indiana’s Jaterra Bonds.

In an odd finish after Indiana appeared to have run away with a victory and starters from both teams on the bench, the Mystics completed a two-game sweep of Indiana with two victories just 24 hours apart.

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“We were a helluva lot better than yesterday,” said Fever coach Lin Dunn. “We played really, really well for 37-and-a-half minutes. I wanted that second or third group of players to either win it or lose it for us in the fourth quarter.

“We dominated the boards. We improved a lot from Tuesday. We did a lot of things well and it sure helped having Layshia Clarendon back.”

A second-year guard who scored 13 points, Clarendon did not play in Tuesday’s loss.

Indiana’s Marissa Coleman scored a game-high 21 points and added six rebounds as the Fever appeared comfortable in securing a win through three quarters. The former University of Maryland and D.C.-area prep star was drafted by the Mystics in 2009, returning Wednesday to match what was a regular-season scoring high, 21, on the same floor in 2011.

Indiana used Coleman’s 6-of-11 shooting and a superior inside game to command its biggest margin of the game, 78-61 with 6:13 left in the contest.

“It’s always fun to come back home,” added Coleman, who played her first three pro seasons with the Mystics. “It’s fun to play well in front of family and friends.”

By the early moments of the fourth quarter, both clubs had gone to their benches, but the Mystics scored 16 straight points – 11 by Jelena Milovanovic – to draw within 78-77, on a Thornton layup. Kizer broke a nearly five-minute scoring drought to push the lead to 80-77, but two free throws by Milovanovic brought the home team to 80-79.

Both teams traded misses on ensuing possessions, but Bonds fouled Thornton at midcourt as the game clock expired. Officials reviewed the play, added 0.8 seconds to the clock and put Thornton at the line for the winning foul shots.

Rookie Natasha Howard had 11 points for Indiana and trade acquisition Lynetta Kizer added 12. Tianna Hawkins scored 18 to lead Washington, with Milovanovic contributing 15 – 13 of which came in the fourth quarter.

The Fever used an early 9-0 spurt to command a 17-6 lead it didn’t relinquish until time was put back on the clock at the end of regulation. Three times in the first half Washington drew within a bucket, and Indiana clung to a 38-37 advantage at intermission. Another 9-2 run to begin the second half handed the Fever a 47-39 advantage and Indiana never looked back until the final minutes.

The No. 5 pick in the WNBA Draft, Howard added a game-high seven rebounds in her second game as a pro. She teamed with Coleman and Kizer to command a 41-24 advantage on the boards. Kizer, another University of Maryland product and D.C. native, had six rebounds. The trio combined to shoot 15-of-30 from the floor.

Anchored by Howard and Kizer, Indiana scored 20 second-chance points, compared to 11 for Washington, helping outscore the Mystics 46-30 in the paint.

Indiana continues its preseason road trip in Orlando for games Friday and Sunday in the WNBA Preseason Tournament. The Fever meets the Chicago Sky on Friday, May 9 at 6:00 p.m.. Indiana meets the winner of Phoenix vs. Minnesota on Sunday.