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Mystics vs. Fever final score: 80-73 loss hurts playoff chances

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No Sanders, no Latta, no win.

Emma Meesseman was the only player in the plus for +/-. Kia Vaughn went 6-of-8.
Emma Meesseman was the only player in the plus for +/-. Kia Vaughn went 6-of-8.
Stewart W. Small

The (12-19) Mystics lost to the (16-15) Fever today in a very unfortunate fashion. Inside, outside and good ball movement for 36 minutes was not enough to get the win.

The Good News

The first 18 minutes of play. The Mystics had 15 assists, five steals, and three turnovers led to 47 first half points. Hitting 7-of-8 free throws was helpful, as well. The Mystics had 26 points in the second half.

Emma Meesseman started off with 13 points and 4 assists in the first half, shooting 62 percent. And ended the game with 19 points, one rebound, four assists, a steal and a big block in the final four minutes to keep the team close. She played a total of three quarters, 29 minutes.

It was not lost on me against the Storm that Meesseman played 33 minutes to Breanna Stewart's 38. A lot of things can happen in five minutes, so again in this case, I don't understand why Meesse would play so little.

Kia Vaughn hit her first six shots for 12 points. But she ended the day with 13 points total and played 17 minutes.

Tayler Hill had a good shooting day, hitting five three-pointers for 15 points in 33 minutes. She also dished three assists. Anyone can live with 55 percent shooting.

Natasha Cloud had eight assists. Unfortunately, too little too late. Shooting was terrible, one for six, but there was this :

The Bad News

The last two minutes of the second quarter was a total mess, when the bench came in to hold down an eight point lead, but could not, the Fever whittled it down the lead to five because of very sloppy play by the Mystics.

The end of the third and fourth quarters was more of the same -- Disjointed and ineffectual. Ball handling became a liability once again.

Lazy passing was definitely a problem. Cloud and others picked up their dribble too soon and their long, telegraphed passes led to steals by the Fever and the hard work and effectiveness of 21 assists went all for naught.

Tierra Ruffin-Pratt and Natasha Cloud combined for 2-of-13, not unusual because the Mystics do indeed have a losing record and are watching their season fold up the tents.

The Bottom Line

The Mystics playoff hopes are pretty much done. The Seattle Storm and Phoenix Mercury currently have the last two seeds but they also own tiebreakers over the Mystics. Washington will have to play it game by game, but this was really a must win game. The rest of the games are must-wins and other teams would have to falter pretty hard for the Styx to sneak into the playoffs.

Not having either veteran LaToya Sanders or Ivory Latta available down the stretch has been a death blow. Tianna Hawkins was doing nice things off the bench, and when you add it all up the Mystics have not been able to get all of the moving parts in sync through enough tough stretches.

P.S.

I would also like to mention that I had a really great time in D.C.! It should come as no surprise that I caught two games live, Wednesday and Friday, and it was an exact representation of the season on the whole - one super blow-out and one disappointing loss. I had the pleasure of chatting with Erika deSouza, in town with the Sky, Kia Vaughn, LaToya Sanders and Emma Meesseman. They were all super laid-back and pleasantly self-deprecating. : )