The Washington Mystics (3–5) ended a two-game losing streak on Tuesday night, defeating the Minnesota Lynx (3–5), 85–81 at Entertainment and Sports Arena. The contest began with a two-and-a-half-minute scoring drought, with Ariel Atkins (17 points) hitting the game’s first basket at 7:37. An 8-0 Minnesota run pushed the deficit to six and prompted a Mike Thibault timeout midway through the first.
The Mystics committed turnover number five of the quarter and went down by nine out of the break. An 11-0 Lynx run was ended by Natasha Cloud, who blew by her defender for an easy layup. Needing their stars to step up, Cloud — 11 points, eight assists, six steals — and Tina Charles — game-high 31 points, eight boards — helped cut Minnesota’s lead to one after the first frame.
In between the first and second, Washington played a tribute video for Aerial Powers, who spent three seasons in the nation's capital and helped the team to the title two years ago.
The Mystics regained the lead at the 8:18 mark of the second quarter, courtesy of a Theresa Plaisance drive that left her defender in the dust. On the ensuing play, Washington’s center then found Myisha Hines-Allen (19 points, five rebounds) inside the paint for a two. In the latter stages of the second, Charles — while double-teamed — found Hines-Allen wide open under the basket. One final defensive stop helped the Mystics to a 43-38 lead at the break.
After shooting 46-percent from the field in the first half, the Mystics missed their first four shots to begin the second; the hiatus was broken by Atkins, who snaked into the paint for a quick two. Four minutes into third, the Lynx retook the lead for the first time since they were up, 24-23, in the second. Minnesota’s advantage lasted all of 25 seconds before the home team netted five points.
A 12-0 run helped the Mystics up the margin to 11 before Cheryl Reeve had seen enough and asked for a break. After committing 10 turnovers in the first half, Washington went 12 minutes without giving the ball away; a Napheesa Collier (team-high 22 points) steal ended a dozen minutes of error-free ball. In the third quarter, Minnesota went over five minutes without a field goal, a stretch that included a 20-2 mystics run that helped D.C. take an 18-point lead.
With 3.4 seconds left in the period, Cloud netted from the charity stripe to score her 1,000th point, an accomplishment for which she received a raucous round of applause from the home crowd.
One of the plays of the game came with 4:46 to go: Cloud stole the ball from an unsuspecting Lynx and found a wide-open Atkins for a sweet lay-in. Just a minute later, Cloud was at it again, jumping the lane, beating her defender with a behind-the-back dribble and finding Hines-Allen for another double. Even though the Lynx pulled within eight in the fourth, the Mystics, thanks to missed coverage and a late Hines-Allen block, won the night, 85-81.