Ivory Latta was all smiles after the Mystics’ 84-61 win over the Tulsa Shock Sunday afternoon.
She had scored 27 in the season opener against her former team on May 27 and had just added 15 more at the Verizon Center in the second and final meeting between the Mystics and Shock.
“It feels good,” Latta said with a little laugh when asked about her 3-pointer 15 seconds into the game and what it meant to beat Tulsa twice. “It feels good all-around just to get a win. Coach had been talking to me about how I’ve been starting the last couple of games and I just felt like I had to come out and start with a whole bunch of energy and that’s what I did. And with that energy I know everybody else will feed off of it. So I just try to come out with a bang.”
And for an afternoon, the excitement that Latta brought on day one was back in D.C. The Mystics (5-6) now have their first blowout victory of the season thanks to a 30-7 run from 1:38 in the second quarter to 1:09 in the third. Their five-game losing streak has been snapped and finally they have won a game by more than five points.
“It’s a nice win,” said Mystics head coach Mike Thibault, who has now tied former Houston Comet head coach Van Chancellor for most regular season wins in WNBA history with 211. “It’s been a long week – a long two weeks.”
The story of the game was Tulsa’s 24.3 percent shooting from the field, but the Mystics also out-rebounded the Shock 48-29 and got solid offensive contributions from all of their starters.
After scoring the game’s first points Latta did not score again until one minute remaining in the first half. However, her 15 points – including five contributed during a 10-0 run in the third that took Washington’s lead from 10 to 20 – led the way for the Mystics, while Monique Currie, Crystal Langhorne and Matee Ajavon all reached double figures as well. It was the second straight home game for the Mystics where all of their top four scorers were in double figures. Washington’s fifth starter, Michelle Snow, chipped in with nine points and tied Currie and Langhorne with a game-high eight boards.
“I think we’re all very capable of scoring points,” Currie said of the team spreading the wealth. “If you’re not open you want to give it to the next player who’s open and we trust and have confidence that they’ll make a shot.”
For Tulsa, nobody really had a good scoring night. Roneeka Hodges had a game-high 16 points, but nine of them came in a meaningless fourth quarter. Nicole Powell and Liz Cambage looked like they were going to be the heroes early on, but Cambage got into foul trouble and Powell ended up going 3-11 from the field and 1-6 from three. Riquna Williams also took 11 shots, making just one and going 0-4 from downtown.
The Shock’s leading scorer, Glory Johnson, had an off night in the scoring column with just eight points and one field goal, but she did tie Courtney Paris with a team-high seven rebounds. After the game she reflected on her team getting blown out after six of their previous nine losses were by single digits.
“They made a couple runs and we had absolutely no answer for their runs,” Johnson said. “They were hitting a lot of their shots and we weren’t hitting ours. So after a while the score’s gonna get run up a little bit.”
The Shock won two games in a row on June 20 and 22, but have been on a three-game skid since. At 3-10 they sit in last place in a tough Western Conference. However, the good news for them is that both the fourth place Storm and fifth place Silver Stars lost on Sunday as well. With Seattle’s Sue Bird and Lauren Jackson and San Antonio’s Sophia Young out for the year, fourth place may be attainable for the Shock if they can continue to improve.
Meanwhile, the Mystics did not benefit from the Dream and Fever winning, but their victory does put them one game behind New York for third place in the East. They won’t play again until Saturday, July 6 went they host the Storm, but some Mystics got to start resting a little early.
Of the Mystic starers, only Latta saw any playing time in the fourth quarter and she played just one minute and 16 seconds.
“It felt good,” Currie said of sitting out the fourth quarter. “It’s been a tough stretch. I can say I was tired and I’m going to enjoy our next two days off. But we gotta keep working and we have a lot of things that we need to work on.”