Well, it was a nice run. But after a three-game winning streak, the Mystics fall back below .500 with a 91-79 loss to the Phoenix Mercury.
The Mercury have struggled this season, particularly on the road, but they came out sharp tonight. Their length bothered the Mystics defensively, cutting off the passing lanes and baiting them into travels on isolations. On the other end of the floor, the Mystics were unfocused, repeatedly leaving superstars Diana Taurasi and Penny Taylor wide open. Phoenix ended the half up 55-40.
It looked like the Mystics had finally figured it out in the second quarter, where they beat the Mercury 25-15 with a ferocious swarming defense and quick recoveries. They cut the lead to as little as 5 and looked like the better team for long stretches, but they couldn’t sustain their intensity and Phoenix gradually took control back in the fourth, ultimately winning 91-79.
Taurasi ended the game with 27, (passing the 7,000 career points mark with a 30-footer). Taylor had 13, and Brittany Griner, who has struggled early in the season, went to work on Stefanie Dolson and Kia Vaughn for 22 points and 3 blocks.
For the Mystics, Tayler Hill attacked relentlessly until the end, with 18 points, 4 assists, and 3 steals. She also went to the line 13 times (making 10), the only Mystic to shoot more than 4 free throws. Natasha Cloud put on a spectacular performance, making Phoenix pay when they dared her to shoot. She was 6-11 from the field and 5-7 from three, ending with 18 points of her own. Emma Meesseman and Stefanie Dolson each chipped in 10.