WNBA 2013: Washington Mystics fend off defending champions

June 16, 2013, Verizon Center, Washington, D.C. – Here are the facts for the 2013 Washington Mystics, so far:

  • A 4-1 record.
  • Best-ever start in Mystics franchise history.
  • Three wins in a row.
  • Played with all four rookies in a game.
  • Beat the 2011 and 2012 WNBA Champions in consecutive weekends.

What do these signify? Is it time to begin the playoff conversation?

Hold on. Let’s not get ahead of ourselves. Judging from their 64-60 win over the Indiana Fever, the Mystics have a long way to go to be competitive with the rest of the league.

That’s because the Fever was essentially playing with a depleted roster. Four of its players, including the usual starters Katie Douglas and Erin Phillips, were injured and did not dress. Their limited bench could only provide a total of 40 minutes and 10 points to the starters, compared to the Mystics bench which finished with 60 minutes and 16 points.

As a result, the game itself was ugly. The frequent foul calls, a total of 38, disrupted any semblance of rhythm and pace. As Coach Thibault said, “Both teams really played well defensively.” In other words, both teams struggled offensively, making less than 39 percent of their field goal attempts in the game.

In the first quarter, the Mystics were ahead by as many as 10 points, but complacency allowed the Fever to even the score at the half. Surprisingly, Crystal Langhorne, did not even have one field goal or foul shot attempt.

Speaking in jest, Washington Coach Mike Thibault said, “We introduced Crystal to her teammates at halftime and let them know that she’s been on the team, and maybe they should throw her the ball.” Langhorne later responded with 16 points, going 5-for-5 in field goals and 6-for-6 in foul shots.

Still, the Mystics have shown that they could be a very competitive team as they begin to understand each other’s tendencies. Their next four games against Seattle, L.A., and Phoenix (twice) should provide a better assessment.

Jun. 18 editor’s note: Washington lost to the Seattle Storm, 96-86, cutting their record to 4-2.

Photo Gallery: Washington Mystics 64, Indiana Fever 60
all photos by Kwai Chan / Meniscus Magazine