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Mystics at Storm final score: Washington loses second straight, 81-71

For the second straight game, the Mystics let another guard go bonkers on them.

Stewart W. Small

On Sunday night, the Mystics (1-2) lost to the Seattle Storm (2-1) in their second game of their road trip, 81-71. But really the scoring margin was smaller than the game itself.

To be fair, Washington was able to keep this game close in the first half. They forced the Storm to commit eight turnovers despite a 17 point first half from Jewell Loyd, who also shot a perfect 5 of 5 from the field in the first quarter. However, Washington had little help on the scoring end outside of Elena Delle Donne, Tayler Hill, and Ivory Latta who made multiple shots in those first two quarters. Meanwhile, Seattle point guard Sue Bird scored 7 points and dished 6 assists in the first half.

In the third quarter, the Storm threw the Mystics out of their game by outscoring them 25-13. Loyd continued her hot shooting by making 3 of her 4 shots that period. But Storm post Crystal Langhorne also stepped up to drop 10 of her 17 points. The Mystics remained stagnant offensively as they couldn’t get easy buckets. In the fourth quarter, their deficit ballooned to 19 points at one point before the benches played the rest of the game out.

Ultimately, this game was not fun to watch besides seeing Breanna Stewart score only 6 points on 3 of 13 shooting. But otherwise, it was a bad performance all around.

Loyd led all scorers with 26 points, while Bird added 10 assists and scored 9 points. For the Mystics, Elena Delle Donne scored 14 points, while Tayler Hill added 13 more. Shatori Walker-Kimbrough made her season debut and added 10 points along with Ivory Latta.

Here are some takeaways from this game.

Jewell Loyd is on ... a ... roll

In the first quarter, Loyd scored 13 points and made all five of her shots. Sure, Breanna Stewart may be the figurative successor to Sue Bird as the franchise player. But let’s say that she’s on track to be one of the WNBA’s best perimeter scorers this year.

Meesseman and Delle Donne still need to gel together

The Mystics’ star frontcourt is the centerpiece of the offensive engine that makes them run. But we see them both act differently to double teams. Emma Meesseman generally tries to pass out of double teams. It’s rare to see her attempt a shot with multiple defenders in her face. Delle Donne, however, is more willing to attempt a shot, often while driving to the hoop in hopes of at least getting a foul.

Though Delle Donne seems to be playing rather seamlessly to her role as the Mystics’ number one offensive option with her 30.8 percent usage rate, Meesseman still seems a bit hesitant to get the ball on offense. I get that Meesseman probably doesn’t want to step on too many toes in just a few games before EuroBasket Women training, but I expect Meesseman to be a bit more active shooting the basketball than she has so far.

The Mystics need more perimeter help defensively

Most expected Washington to be a strong defensive team, but they allowed two guards to go bonkers on them in two consecutive games. Last Friday, Sparks Sydney Wiese scored 22 points, 16 of them in the first half to put that game out of reach. Then tonight, we saw Loyd drop 17 in the first half.

The Sky game on Wednesday shouldn’t be as difficult as these first two games, but their best guard, Cappie Pondexter is a capable scorer who can also drop another 15 or more points in a half. The perimeter defense has got to improve either way.

Next game

The Mystics will play the Chicago Sky this Wednesday in a matinee. It’s also Delle Donne’s first time back in the Windy City since she was traded to Washington.