Mystics 72, Fever 65
On a night the Indiana Fever raised a banner, the Washington Mystics gave them a reminder that it's a new season.
Monique Currie scored 21 points and Crystal Langhorne added 19 to help the Mystics, who were eliminated by Indiana in the playoffs, beat the defending Eastern Conference champions 72-65 Saturday night.
``It's the beginning of the season, and we're trying to get momentum here at the start,'' Currie said. ``This was a big win at Indiana on their home floor. We knew they were dropping their banner tonight. But that was last year, and we want to be dropping the banner this year.''
Currie scored seven points in the first quarter.
``I think Monique really set the tone for us,'' Washington coach Julie Plank said. ``I thought she came out a couple times down, just drove at Katie Douglas, and just was very aggressive.''
Katie Smith added 12 points in her first game for Washington after pestering Indiana for years as a member of the Detroit Shock.
``She just has a toughness about her,'' Plank said. ``She's competitive, she's not afraid of anything, and she just wills people to win. When she's on the floor, they know they can do it.''
Tamika Catchings and Tammy Sutton-Brown each scored 12 points, and Douglas added 10 for the Fever.
Four of Indiana's starters played in the Turkish League finals and practiced together only once before Saturday's game. The Fever will need to recover quickly because they play at Atlanta on Sunday.
``You think you can fight jet lag, but you can't,'' Sutton-Brown said. ``We just have to grind out these two games and dig deep and try to grind out the game tomorrow.''
Indiana had little to celebrate after raising the banner. Washington shot 50 percent to make up for committing 26 turnovers, and never trailed after the middle of the second quarter.
The Mystics led 32-25 late in the first half before Indiana's Allie Quigley sparked a comeback. She made a layup, got a steal that led to a short jumper by Douglas, then made a driving layup to cut Washington's lead to 32-31.
Washington led 37-31 at halftime, then increased its edge to 10 points early in the third quarter.
Indiana made it 54-50 early in the fourth quarter while Catchings was the only starter on the floor.
Washington responded definitively, and a 3-pointer by Smith made it 64-52 with just under four minutes to play, and Currie followed shortly afterward with a 3 to extend the Mystics' lead to 13.
``At times we did good things, but we never got our rhythm,'' Indiana coach Lin Dunn said. ``I would like to attribute that to the fact that we haven't practiced together, but that's not an excuse. Our rotations on defense were slow. We make a run, then we miss a layup and a free throw.''
The win was satisfying for the Mystics, who had lost seven in a row against the Fever and were swept in five games last year, including two games in the Eastern Conference semifinals.
``We just learn every time we play a team, especially them,'' Plank said. ``We were close all last year and didn't get it done.''