Mystics Look to Conquer Dream

The Mystics (12-15) host the Atlanta Dream (14-9) in a critical Eastern Conference showdown tonight at Verizon Center. Washington currently sits in fourth place in the East, just a half game behind the third place Indiana Fever. Atlanta is second in the East, just 2.5 games behind the Chicago Sky.

This will be the fourth time these two teams meet this season, with the fifth and final meeting coming next Wednesday in Atlanta. The Dream lead the season series, 3-0.

In their last meeting on Sunday, the Mystics fell 76-58 in Atlanta. The Mystics opened the game with 28 points in the first quarter and a seven-point lead over Atlanta. However, they managed just 30 points the rest of the way and were outscored by 17 points in the second half.

Guard Ivory Latta led the Mystics with 12 points, forward Monique Currie had 10, while forward Crystal Langhorne finished with nine points and nine rebounds. Guard Tiffany Hayes paced the Dream with a game-high 23 points off the bench.

Second half scoring droughts continued to plague the Mystics on Tuesday against Chicago, as they managed just one field goal in the third quarter and fell 79-73.

“Right now we’re just thinking about winning the game,” Langhorne said of the playoff race. “Every game, just win the next game.

“I can play a lot better, especially after the last two games (where) I’ve been kind of off. I just need to get back into the flow and hit my shots.”

After a three-game winning streak, the Mystics now look to snap a two-game skid with a home win tonight vs. the Dream.

“We just need to get back to what we do,” Langhorne said. “I mean the last few games we played really good defense, but we had these scoring droughts, so I think we just need to play better offensively together.”

In order to do that, they’ll need to stop the WNBA’s leading scorer, Angel McCoughtry and her 22.2 points per game. She has averaged 19.3 ppg in her three games against the Mystics, including 22 last Sunday in Atlanta. Washington also has to look out for forward Erika de Souza who averages 12.4 points per game and 9.5 rebounds — which is good for third in the WNBA.

“They’re going to be all up in the passing lane, ball fakes, so we just have to be patient with the ball and not rush it,” Langhorne said. “Once they start getting still they’re so hard to defend.”

Latta and Langhorne will have to defensively step up to stop McCoughtry and Souza respectively as well as asserting their offense. The Mystics will not only have to get off to a hot start, but they will also need to maintain their offense in the second half. Another second half collapse will not bode well for their playoff aspirations and the overall confidence of the team.

Washington’s schedule doesn’t get any easier after Friday. The Mystics will then face the Dream again on Wednesday. They will then get a week off before traveling to Connecticut to face the Sun on Friday September 6th. Following that game Washington will return home to play the Chicago Sky on Sunday September 8th.

So what bodes well for the home squad? The Mystics enter tonight’s game 7-6 at home, while the Dream are 3-8 on the road.

Game on…