WASHINGTON (AP) The Washington Mystics may have needed a reminder on how to find their own arena. They didn’t need to remember how to defeat coach Mike Thibault’s former team.
All-Star Ivory Latta scored 23 points and Monique Currie had 17 as the Mystics beat the skidding Connecticut Sun 89-75 on Wednesday afternoon.
Former University of Connecticut stars Stefanie Dolson and Bria Hartley also scored in double figures for the Mystics (11-13), who last played a home game July 2. They then had five consecutive road games, winning three of the last four.
”Oh my God, I didn’t know how to get back to the gym,” a smiling Latta cracked shortly after Washington outscored Connecticut 30-16 in the fourth quarter.
The victory moved the Mystics into a tie with Indiana for second place in the Eastern Conference behind Atlanta.
Chiney Ogwumike had 18 points and 10 rebounds for the Sun (10-15). Connecticut has lost nine of its last 11 games but remains in possession of the fourth and final playoff spot in the East.
The decisive stretch came with Washington Wizards guard John Wall sitting courtside and before an announced crowd of 16,028 on ”Camp Day.” Latta credited the energy needed for the final push to the loud atmosphere created by thousands of enthusiastic kids rooting for the home team.
The two-time All-Star and her teammates also recognize the matchup’s symbolism. Thibault, the winningest coach in WNBA history, was fired after 10 seasons by Connecticut in 2012.
”(Coach) never emphasizes anything like that, but as players we know this is something we need to get (for him),” Latta said.
Washington is 3-0 against Connecticut this year and has won six of seven since the start of the 2013 season, when Thibault joined the Mystics as coach and general manager.
”I won’t lie. It’s fun beating them,” Thibault said. ”Right now, I don’t think about them necessarily. It’s just one more team in our way.”
Latta made 5 of 7 3-pointers, including one with 6:52 remaining during a 19-4 run that gave Washington the lead for good. Dolson scored nine of her 13 points in the fourth quarter. Hartley added 11 points.
The Mystics shot 50 percent from the field. The Sun missed 10 of 15 field goal attempts in the fourth quarter.
Kelsey Bone and Alex Bentley each scored 15 points for the Sun.
”It was a typical kind of grind-it-out game,” Sun coach Anne Donovan said. ”They take the lead; we take the lead. Back and forth. Then with six minutes left, they imposed their will, and we didn’t respond.”