Mystics, Fever look to end three-game skids

The Washington Mystics and Indiana Fever each will try to snap a three-game losing streak when they meet Friday night at Bankers Life Fieldhouse.

Washington (10-8) maintains a strong shot at the postseason despite three straight losses this month to the Los Angeles Sparks, Phoenix Mercury and Connecticut Sun. Each one of those defeats came by single digits.

Indiana (7-10) also is winless in July and is coming off its most embarrassing loss of the season. On Wednesday afternoon, the Fever could not manage to win on their home court against the San Antonio Stars, who had lost 15 of their first 16 games.

This marks the second meeting of the season between the teams. On June 11, the Mystics marched to an emphatic 88-70 win over the Fever thanks to a team-leading 25 points by forward Elena Delle Donne. Center Krystal Thomas contributed a double-double with 14 points and 14 rebounds.

The Mystics’ impressive size will not be any easier for the Fever to deal with this time around. Delle Donne is averaging 19.8 points and 6.6 rebounds per game and recently was named to her first All-Star game since joining Washington.

The backcourt tandem of Tayler Hill (13.8 points) and Kristi Toliver (10.3 points) also is averaging double digits for Washington. Both are shooting above 90 percent from the free-throw line.

For Indiana, veteran forward Candice Dupree has provided steady contributions during the team’s up-and-down season. Dupree’s 14.4 points per game lead the team, and she also is averaging 5.8 rebounds and 1.5 assists per contest.

Guard Erica Wheeler is next in scoring average with 11.4 points per game. Meanwhile, guard Tiffany Mitchell is averaging 10.6 points for the Fever.

The offensive statistics are nice, but Indiana head coach Pokey Chatman wants better defense from her players.

“Until we battle on the defensive end for every possession and every second, we’re going to come up short,” Chatman told the team’s official website. “I’ve been saying it for a while now, but we have to continue making improvements on defense.”

The Mystics also are determined to show a better effort after their most recent loss against the Sun. Washington squandered a 22-point lead with a dismal second half.

“We have to learn from it,” Delle Donne told reporters after the game.

Indiana learned this week that guard Shenise Johnson will miss the remainder of the season because of a torn ACL in her left knee. Johnson, who sustained the injury during practice Tuesday, is expected to make a full recovery and play next season.