The Washington Mystics players will be the first to deny that this season bears a strong resemblance to last one. Their 1-5 start may make that a hard sell.
Hosting the New York Liberty on Friday night at Verizon Center, the Mystics fell into a familiar pattern — they got down by double-digits early, then came back with a strong fourth-quarter run, only to lose in the closing moments, 76-70.
The loss marks their fourth in a row and drops them to last place in the Eastern Conference. Coach Trudi Lacey is known for putting as positive a spin as possible on the performance of her team, win or lose.
Not this time.
“I don’t have an explanation for it, except that people weren’t ready to play,” said a visibly annoyed Lacey.
“That is unacceptable and inexcusable. What I’m going to do is find the five people that want to play together, who want to play defense, who want to play [with] energy for the entire game.”
The Liberty completely dominated the Mystics in the first half, going on a 13-0 run which had New York leading by the unsightly margin of 35-13 by the end of the first quarter. By halftime, the Mystics were down 55-33.
Led by three-time All-Star guard Cappie Pondexter (25 points), voted last year as one of the top 15 players in league history, the Liberty never let up on the overmatched Mystics, who managed to get as close as three points in the closing seconds of the game.
In an effort to generate a spark, Lacey started Michelle Show in place of Ashley Robinson at center, and brought guards Matee Ajavon and Jasmine Thomas in off the bench early. However, it wasn’t enough to slow down the Liberty, who shot 60 percent in the first half and finished the game at 48.3 percent. The Mystics shot just 40 percent.
“I don’t know, we’re going to have to figure it out,” said Crystal Langhorne, who led the Mystics with 24 points. “Chicago, Minnesota, and now this game. We’ve had double-digit deficits, and we have to fix it, because we can’t keep playing from behind. The second half, our pride kicks in and we think, ‘We’re better than this’. We just have to keep fighting.”
Compared to the Liberty’s easy transition game and efficiency from the 3-point line (7 of 13), the Mystics appeared disjointed, and made glaring defensive lapses that led to easy baskets for the Liberty.
Only Langhorne, Snow (10 points), and Ajavon (10 points) scored in double figures, while Monique Currie had an off night, scoring just two points from the line, while going 0-for-5 from the floor in a season-low 13:43.
“I’m disappointed. I expect more out of myself,” Currie said.
“I have to bring more to the table in order for us to win. I really don’t have any excuses, I just need to start better, and we need to figure it out. We get in the hole 20 points, then we fight back. We’d make it much easier on ourselves if we play the same way when we’re behind as we do when we’re not behind.”
With games coming up against Indiana and Los Angeles, each of which are over .500, the Mystics need to solve their tale of two halves quickly to start to get on the right track.