Mystics 77 - Dream 67

The Washington Mystics were determined to avoid a season sweep by the Atlanta Dream today, winning a physical game that was the last regular season match-up between the top two Eastern Conference teams 77-67. The win marks Washington’s fourth straight and completes a 3-0 undefeated homestand.

Mystics guard Ivory Latta, who has averaged 18.3 points the last three games, added another impressive 21-point performance today. Latta shot an efficient 7-13 and also picked up six rebounds and six assists. Guards Kara Lawson and Tierra Ruffin-Pratt added big points off the bench and provided much-needed scoring for Washington in the second half with 14 and 13 points, respectively. Forward Monique Currie, who has scored in double-figures in each of the last five games, had another solid game, recording 12 points and five rebounds, but it was her defensive effort that contributed greatly to the Mystics win.

Currie and the rest of the Mystics defenders held Angel McCoughtry, who averages 19.7 points, to 12 points on 5-17 shooting. The team specifically focused on McCoughtry and tried to limit her touches and open looks. Sancho Lyttle led Atlanta in scoring with 19 points and eight rebounds.

Washington opened up both the first and second quarter with sloppy play. Errant passes and other miscues led to nine first half Mystics turnovers that made head coach Mike Thibault visibly upset throughout the game, but the team was able to close both quarters with cleaner play and strong shooting. The half ended with a 39-38 Mystics lead.

The Mystics struggled in the third but received a huge spark from Ruffin-Pratt, who had seven big points in the quarter to drive Washington to a 59-54 lead. Then, in the fourth, the Mystics got crucial points from Lawson, who scored seven of her 14 points in the final period.

The Mystics were able to hang on to the win thanks, once again, to their league-leading defense. The Mystics held the Dream to 37.3% shooting and forced 15 turnovers, which helped mitigate Washington’s own 16 turnovers.

The Washington Mystics, winners of six of their last seven games, are now back to the .500 mark at 13-13 and stand alone in the Eastern Conference’s second-place spot. Latta was quick to add during postgame interviews that the team can’t get complacent, but must also maintain the confidence that the Mystics have carried during this stretch. The Mystics will now go on the road to face the New York Liberty on Tuesday in Madison Square Garden.