Game Recap: Fever 72, Mystics 76

Game Recap: Fever, Mystics 150908

September 8, 2015 – Indiana Fever highlights from their 76-72 loss to the Mystics in Washington.

Fever Fall to Mystics in OT

WASHINGTON – Ivory Latta scored a season-high 25 points to spark the Washington Mystics to a 76-72 overtime win over the Indiana Fever to clinch a playoff spot in the WNBA Eastern Conference.

It was Latta’s three-point play that capped a fourth-quarter comeback that sent the contest to overtime, and her free with 24.6 seconds to play forced Indiana to shoot from beyond the arc in its final possession.

Washington welcomed a return to its home arena by snapping a four-game losing skid since last playing at home Aug. 28. While securing a playoff berth for the third straight season, the Mystics moved within a game of the Fever in third place in the East standings.

“It wasn’t a pretty game,” said Fever coach Stephanie White while referring to 41 combined turnovers by the Fever and Mystics. “But when it came to crunch time, Ivory Latta was a big part of things. She hit shots, she made hustle plays and she wouldn’t be denied.”

Photo Gallery: Fever 72, Mystics 76 >>

Indiana held second-half leads of 11 and 9 points, and scored the first four points in overtime, but couldn’t seal their 19th win and a victory that could have clinched at least the No. 3 seed in the upcoming playoffs.

“[Washington] was the aggressor. They were more aggressive than we were. We played not to lose, and not to win,” added White.

In the overtime, Tayler Hill tied the score at 72 before LaToya Sanders’ putback layin with 49.3 seconds left gave Washington the lead it never relinquished. A miss by Indiana’s Lynetta Kizer and a rebounding foul by Shavonte Zellous gave the Mystics the ball again with 24.6 seconds left.

Latta, fouled on the ensuing inbounds play, went to the line and hit the first of two free throws. After a Tamika Catchings missed 3-pointer with 14 seconds left, Tierra Ruffin-Pratt iced the scoring with a final free throw with 8.6 seconds left.

“It was a tough loss,” said Indiana’s Layshia Clarendon who finished with a team-high 15 points. “It felt like we had chances to put them away multiple times, and we just didn’t. We wasted opportunities.”

Hill and Sanders came off the bench to score 14 and 13 points, respectively, for the Mystics. Lynetta Kizer added 12 points for the Fever and Tamika Catchings, despite 2-of-13 shooting, finished with 10.

Indiana trailed 38-35 at the break, then got 12 straight points as part of a 16-2 run to begin the second half. Back-to-back 3-pointers from Marissa Coleman and Shenise Johnson catapulted the Fever to a 51-40 advantage and their largest lead, with 5:56 to go in the third.

Desperate for a playoff spot, the Mystics answered. Washington used an 8-2 mini-run to climb within 5, and got within a single possession when Kia Vaughn’s free throw made it 54-51 with 37 seconds left in the period.

Catchings, after missing her first seven shots, nailed a deep jumper to beat the third-quarter buzzer and help Indiana head to the fourth up 56-51. A pair of free throws by Lucas and another jumper from Catchings staked the Fever to nine-point lead in the opening minute of the fourth, but in a game with playoff positioning at stake, Washington made another push.

This time, Washington came back from a 62-53 fourth-quarter deficit to pull within one, 64-63, on a bucket from Sanders. Latta’s driving baseline layin and subsequent free throw capped a 13-2 run that gave Washington its first lead, 66-64, since a brief 40-39 lead early in the second half.

Clarendon knotted the game at 66 with 45 seconds to play in regulation and the Mystics missed twice within the last 1.6 seconds to force the extra session.

Indiana played without starting point guard Briann January for the fourth straight game. Washington was without its own veteran guard, Kara Lawson.

The Fever play at Atlanta on Friday prior to closing the regular season on Sunday, Sept. 13 against East frontrunner New York. The Mystics, within reach of Indiana for third place in the East, also play the Dream and Liberty in this weekend’s final games.