The Washington Mystics and Connecticut Sun are battling for playoff spots in the crowded Eastern Conference.
While things are looking up for the Mystics, the Sun are headed in the opposite direction.
Washington tries to continue its success against visiting Connecticut in the first of three remaining matchups in the series Wednesday.
The Mystics (10-13) open the second half in high spirits after winning three of their final four games before the All-Star break. Tierra Ruffin-Pratt scored a career-high 18 points off the bench and Monique Currie added 16 as Washington closed a five-game road swing with Thursday’s 79-75 win over Los Angeles.
"It helps you relax more over the break, but also gives us some momentum going into the second half of the season," Currie said. "It shows a lot for us to stay together and play hard and grind this win out."
The Mystics shot 49.2 percent and outrebounded the Sparks 32-23.
"They’re definitely a great team. What we can take from this is the way we played against them is how we have to play in our own conference," All-Star Ivory Latta said. "We can’t let up."
The Mystics have won five of the past six matchups with the Sun. Washington has taken both meetings this season, 74-66 at Connecticut on June 5 and 69-63 at home June 27.
Mystics center Emma Meesseman scored a career-high 22 points and added 13 rebounds in the latest victory as Washington held a 36-22 scoring edge in the paint.
The Sun (10-14) come out of the break one-half game behind Washington and just ahead of New York and Chicago for the final East postseason berth. Looking to get on track, Connecticut has followed a six-game winning streak by dropping eight of 10.
The Sun’s woes continued in a 101-85 loss at Phoenix on Thursday. Katie Douglas had 23 points and Alex Bentley scored 20 but Connecticut allowed the Mercury to shoot 53.5 percent.
Douglas, who finished with 15 points while making 5 of 8 from 3-point range in Saturday’s All-Star game, leads the East with 49 made 3s. Latta ranks second with 47, but she’s shooting 33.6 percent from beyond the arc compared to Douglas’ mark of 38.0 percent.
The Sun are hoping to get a boost from veteran forward Ebony Hoffman, who was signed for the remainder of the season Friday. Hoffman has averaged 6.0 points and 4.3 rebounds in 319 career games.
"Ebony will add valuable post experience to our roster which will be important as we make a strong push for playoffs," coach Anne Donovan said.