Atlanta Defense Proves Nightmarish for Mystics

WASHINGTON, D.C.–It was not what they wanted. But the Atlanta Dream gave the Washington Mystics the blues in all phases of the game in a 73-63 victory over Washington in their home opener at the Verizon Center June 1.

Washington players couldn't seem to get out of their own way at times.

Sometimes it was turnovers, other times it was not making close-in baskets and other times it was missing assignments on defense. The Mystics didn't get the job done when it was needed this time.

The Mystics knew that the key in this game was stopping Baltimore native Angel McCoughtry. But she was all over the place for Atlanta (3-0) in this game, scoring 15 points to lead the Dream.

Crystal Langhorne, who led the Mystics with 15 points, said, "It was really to out-rebound them and control our turnovers. We really did not do either. Therefore, that was tough. It ‘s hard to beat a team like them that’s so good in transition, that runs the ball like that if we don’t take care of the ball and rebound."

At the end of the first half, Washington (1-1) committed more turnovers (14) than field goals (13). That wasn't a very good sign for the Mystics, especially coming off their tough 95-90 win over Tulsa on Memorial Day. In addition, the Mystics were beaten soundly on the boards 40-24.

The key to Atlanta's defensive domination was, according to Atlanta head coach Fred Williams, "our rotating defense and really taking some gambles and going out on steals. You got some quick perimeter players like we have that are going to go out and make those types of possessions for us."

McCoughtry said, "Armintie does a great job getting in the passing lanes. Tiffany Hayes gets in there and gets them steals. Even Sancho (Lyttle) and Erika (de Souza) get deflections in sometimes and helps us get steals. I think deflections should be a part of the stat sheet."

The Mystics scored the first two baskets of the game on lay-ups by forwards Monique Currie and Crystal Langhorne to go up 4-0. But Atlanta retaliated with a 19-4 run courtesy of nine first quarter turnovers by the Mystics to put the Dream ahead for good 19-8 with 1:39 left in the first quarter.

That start didn't sit well with point guard Ivory Latta. Latta said about that first quarter, "That’s not the way we want to start the game. But at the same time, I am a point guard. So I blame myself for that. I put all the blame on me and it’s my fault the way we started. I have to go out there and set the tone for my team. It starts with me."

Despite several Mystics rallies, Washington couldn't climb within four points of Atlanta for the rest of the game.

Washington hits the road on June 7 at 7 pm to take on head coach Mike Thibault's former team, the Connecticut Sun, in the first of two back-to-back games this season. Then the Minnesota Lynx comes into the Verizon Center to take on the Mystics on June 8 at 7 pm.

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Atlanta Defense Proves Nightmarish for Mystics