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Mystics at Liberty final score: Washington sputters in New York, loses 74-66

Stewart W. Small

The Mystics lost to the Liberty on Friday night, 74-66. Krystal Thomas led the Mystics scorers with 17 points while Elena Delle Donne scored 15 points in her first game back from a thumb injury. For the Liberty, Tina Charles and Epiphanny Prince scored 20 points each, while Shavonte Zellous added 18 more.

In short, this was a game that Washington could have won, but a very lackluster fourth quarter when they scored just 6 points on 3 of 13 shooting did them in. The Liberty on the other hand was shooting just badly, but they did find themselves at the free throw line while Washington didn’t. In addition, they also outrebounded the Mystics in the fourth and for the game. Here are some takeaways.

The star frontcourt did its part until the fourth quarter

If you glance at the box score, both Elena Delle Donne and Emma Meesseman scored in double figures and they both dished a combined 7 assists. The offense ran through them tonight, and it should be that way.

However, the two players scored just four points in the fourth quarter when the outcome of this game was decided when they made both of their shot attempts. Furthermore, neither of the two attempted free throws or make an attempt to get to the line. Delle Donne is someone who does this often, but she doesn’t want to risk injury.

The Mystics are on the outside looking in on a first-round bye

With this loss, the Mystics also lost their tiebreaker against the Liberty should they end up with the same regular season record. Washington’s now fifth in the WNBA, which means that they’re not getting a first round bye. At least they’ll host a first round elimination game if the season ended today, but it’s a winner take all thing so you know.

Bria Hartley is BACK! Unfortunately, she is not in a Mystics uniform

As you may know, Bria Hartley had a strong rookie season when she made the All-Rookie team and started nearly every game in 2014. But injuries hampered her in 2015, and Hartley played most of the 2016 season in the first trimester of her pregnancy. In short, you can make the argument that she regressed in the last two seasons.

However, Hartley has come back into her own in the 2017 season. She was scoreless and played sparingly in the Liberty’s first four games. But after Prince went to EuroBasket to play for Russia, Hartley got to start and put up some solid performances including a 17 point showing against the Wings on June 16.

Though she hardly played in a few games in early July once Prince returned, head coach Bill Laimbeer got back to his senses. Hartley got back in the rotation and has started nearly every game ever since. The Liberty is on a seven game win streak and they won 9 of their last 11 games! She’s also averaged 11.4 points a game in that span.

Hartley is also shooting a career-high 42.3 percent from the field, but wasn’t as efficient tonight when she shot 4 of 14 from the field. But she did make some significant buckets to keep the Mystics from getting back into it like this corner three with just under six minutes left in the game:

I feel stupid that I wrote multiple posts on Hartley’s offseason from her baby shower, to her giving birth while finding the time to work out, because she was out the door within a month after her son was born. But whatever. I’m shameless.

I’m happy that she’s having a bounceback season that some probably didn’t think she had in her. As a fan, I just wish was that she would have been doing that here in Washington instead.