FINALLY. For the first time in my very short-lived sports writing career, I am covering a Mystics win. Seven games in (I missed their previous home win) I witnessed my ladies victorious, skipping towards the locker room tunnel, high fiving fans.
Sniffling and choking back tears, I followed. If I weren’t such a fresh recipient of my media credentials I would’ve skipped along behind them. Yeah, picture that. Not a good look for a rookie.
The victory was mostly due to star Matee Ajavon. She tied a career high in points, pouring in 32 as Washington cruised to a 91-81 victory over the Eastern conference’s second ranked New York Liberty.
The initial highlight of Ajavon’s night came early in the 1st quarter when she reached the 1000 point mark in her career. Going into the game she only needed 6 points to achieve that milestone. She ended up exceeding that, substantially.
The Mystics were on pace to hit the 100 point mark by halftime, leading the Liberty 50-38, shooting 56 percent from the field and 18/19 from the line.
All-star Crystal Langhorne finished with 20 points and 9 rebounds. Point guard Kelly Miller finished with 10, including the first 6 points for the Mystics on back-to-back 3 point buckets, setting the tone for the rest of the game.
The Liberty seemed to be a victim of a rebellious Mystics team that was still burned from last week’s devastating loss to the Indiana Fever on a buzzer beating layup. I’d say they were a victim of a team that has just plain tanked the entire season and finally snapped out of it. Last year’s top Eastern conference team has now improved to 4-14 this year.
As usual for the Mystics, the 4th quarter wasn’t very smooth. After trailing by as many as 20 in the 3rd, the Liberty fought back and trimmed the deficit to single digits at 84-75. A few turnovers and missed shots brought a sense of unfortunate familiarity to us fans, given the Mystics’ trend of botched 4th quarters and late game collapses all season long.
But to the pleasant surprise of everyone watching, the ladies wouldn’t allow themselves to go down that route again. Not this night. A few defensive stops in the closing minutes of the game sealed the win for the Mystics, and for the first time in my prestigious journalism career I was able to sleep soundly.