The two most important words from tonight’s game: register and vote. Each team took a 24-second shot clock violation to begin each quarter so that viewers could be made aware of the importance of filling out the census as part of an initiative to get people registered to vote.
Coming into this game, the Seattle Storm (now 14-3) were looking to lock up the No. 1 seed ahead of the playoffs. The last time these two teams met on July 30, the Mystics dominated play in what would end up being an 89–71 Washington win.
The first quarter opened with back-and-forth scoring but slowed down as the two teams went cold from the field. Leilani Mitchell (seven points and five assists) hit Emma Meesseman with a gorgeous pass early on to get the Belgian going. For Seattle, Jewell Loyd put up eight points in the first on her way to 13. Despite Ariel Atkins going 1–4 from three, the Mystics only trailed by nine after one.
Early in the second, it seemed as if the Mystics were buried after two Sami Whitcomb threes, but Tianna Hawkin’s tough defensive play on the perimeter and at the rim and overall strong ball movement kept the Mystics in the game. Meesseman added 11 of her 17 points in the first and finished the game with three assists and three rebounds, shooting 44-percent from the field.
KNOCK IT DOWN @EmmaMeesseman!! pic.twitter.com/el9HAvvFvA— Washington Mystics (@WashMystics) September 3, 2020
Despite the team shooting 25-percent from three and 34-percent from the field after two, the Mystics only trailed by eight. Washington held on despite not shooting any free throws in the first half. Against the top team in the league, the Mystics were never truly out of the contest.
As the third quarter rolled by, the team’s shooting failed to improve. The three-ball wasn’t landing and the Mystics took too many contested shots. What kept them in the game, Seattle didn’t shoot much better.
Despite having half the turnovers of Seattle, it was shooting that ended up impeding the Mystics. Atkins had an off night, with nine points, shooting 25-percent from the field and 20-percent from three.
If Atkins had a quiet night, Myisha Hines-Allen’s struggles were more pronounced. She finished with two points, six rebounds and shot 13-percent from the field, missing both her three-point attempts. Kiara Leslie, the team’s fifth starter also only had two points, meaning that Meesseman was the lone starter to score in double digits.
10 points from Jacki Gemelos and Hawkins helped, but it wasn’t enough to rescue a languid Mystics offense.
Seattle also dominated the glass, out-rebounding the Mystics 43–25. Rebounding resilience led to a plethora of second chance points for the Storm. What also buried the Mystics was a failure to score more than 20 points in any quarter.
2018 MVP Breanna Stewart also flexed her skill with a team-leading 16 points and 14 rebounds. Stewart has now been the Storm’s leading scorer in 13 of last 17 games.
With too many key players having off nights, Washington got close but never managed to really push the league leaders. As the Mystics fall to 4–12, the postseason looks farther and farther away.
The Mystics’ next game is on Friday September 4 at 7 p.m. ET against the Chicago Sky and will be televised on NBC Sports Washington.