Sport Recap: Shorthanded Mystics fall to Sparks, 89–82
Charles passes Leslie on double-double list, Mystics win
WASHINGTON (AP) — Tina Charles had 20 points and 10 rebounds to pass Lisa Leslie for second on the WNBA's double-double list, helping the Washington Mystics beat the Los Angeles Sparks 89-71 on Thursday night. Charles, the No. 1 overall pick in 2010, has 158th double-doubles — one more than former Los Angeles star Leslie. Minnesota forward Sylvia Fowles is the leader with 169. Ariel Atkins scored 18 of her 23 points in the first half, Theresa Plaisance added 11 points, six rebounds and four blocks, and Myisha Hines-Allen scored 10 points for Washington (4-5). Atkins was 7 of 10 from the field, but the rest of her teammates combined to shoot 23 for 61 (37.7%).
The Washington Mystics (7–7) saw a three-game winning streak snapped on Thursday night, as the 2019 Champions fell to the L.A. Sparks (6–7), 89–82, at the Los Angeles Convention Center. It was all Mystics early on, as Theresa Plaisance (11 points, eight rebounds) and Tina Charles (25, 10) hit back-to-back threes. Charles followed with a two before Amanda Zahui B (17 points, five rebounds, three blocks) ended Washinton’s 8–0 run. Five Los Angeles turnovers through the first six minutes helped the Mystics race to a 16–6 lead.
Washington’s five starters finally got a breather at the first television timeout; the Mystics dressed eight due to an abundance of injuries. L.A. threatened the lead late in the frame, but a 13 first-quarter points from Charles gave the Mystics a six-point lead after 10. Te’a Cooper led the home side with eight points off the bench in the opening period.
The Wings Have Arrived Sooner Than Expected
With a young core led by Arike Ogunbowale, Dallas could be playoff-bound ahead of schedule. © Provided by Sports Illustrated Each Thursday this season, Sports Illustrated’s Ben Pickman is diving deep into the WNBA story lines you need to know. With 4.5 seconds to play in the Wings’ second consecutive road game against the Storm this past Sunday, Dallas guard Arike Ogunbowale received an inbounds pass on the left wing with her back toward the basket.
In the second, Cooper picked up where she left off, but the Mystics held on even as Charles got a breather on the bench. The second half saw Washington become careless with the ball — committing nine turnovers — and the yellow and gold took advantage. L.A. tied the game at 4:13 and took their first lead of the night at 3:19 once Zahui B knocked down a contested three. The scoreboard change forced Mike Thibault to call for a timeout.
Leilani Mitchell (26 points, six boards) hit a deep shot to tie the game out of the stoppage, and a deep ball from Ariel Atkins helped Washington retake the lead, albeit for a pair of seconds. The sides traded baskets into the break, with the hosts holding a five-point advantage with half the game played.
Mitchell scored the first six points for her team to open the third, and Plaisance added another five. Things started to unravel for the visitors midway through the period — Zahui B got Charles to commit an offensive foul, and Cooper, who finished tied for a game-high 26 points, picked off an errant pass, which led to a layup and a Washington timeout. Injuries or not, both sides came to play, as the greatest lead of the third was five points — the deficit at the beginning of the quarter.
As was the case with the majority of the contest, Washington and L.A. traded points down to the wire. Ultimately, the one-possession match went to the Sparks, with the difference being 20 Washington turnovers that led to 31 points.
The Mystics will finish their road trip this Saturday when they play the Dallas Wings. Tipoff is at 1 p.m. ET.
All In On Five: Where's the explanation for Nneka Ogwumike's Olympics snub? .
The WNBA is off on the first day of the work week, but that only means it's a day to let loose and spill the drama. It happened last week and then again this past Monday with the USA Basketball roster announcement for the Tokyo Olympics. Notably absent was Los Angeles Sparks anchor Nneka Ogwumike. If you're counting, and we all obviously are, that's three Olympics that Ogwumike has been left out of, but this one stings especially sharply. And it's about time we have more transparency on the process and results.