LaToya Sanders believes the Washington Mystics’ fun-loving nature is leading to success on the court, but that certainly hasn’t been the case lately on the road.
The Tulsa Shock haven’t had much to smile about anywhere since losing Skylar Diggins for the season – and now the franchise has even announced relocation plans.
As the Mystics look to enter the All-Star break on a high note with a third straight victory, the short-handed Shock will try to avoid their fourth consecutive loss Tuesday.
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Kara Lawson stepped up with a season-high 24 points and Stefanie Dolson added 20 and eight rebounds to help Washington (8-6) pull out Sunday’s 89-82 home win over Connecticut.
After a slow start, Dolson has averaged 16.3 points and 9.0 rebounds in her last six games. Lawson, who ranks among WNBA leaders with 4.2 assists per game, hit a season-best 4 of 6 from 3-point range.
Despite sitting near the bottom of the league with a 41.0 field-goal percentage, the Mystics will try to build on a 48.3 mark against the Sun that included 7-of-15 shooting from long range.
"We’re growing and it just feels really good," Lawson, a 13-year WNBA veteran, told the team’s official website. "It’d be really good going into break to get three in a row."
Sanders looks to continue her emergence after scoring 17 in her fourth game since playing with Turkey in the Eurobasket tournament. Sanders, who spent the past three years in Europe, also had 14 points and 10 boards in a 68-50 home win over Indiana on Friday.
"We’re just out there having fun," she said. "It just translates to the game."
Washington hasn’t had much to enjoy during a three-game road losing streak, dropping the last two at Indiana and Chicago by a combined 51 points. The club had won its first three away from home.
The Mystics had taken four straight in the series with Tulsa before suffering an 86-82 home loss June 19. Emma Meesseman had a team-high 24 points for Washington, but she’s averaged 9.0 over her last five games after scoring 18.6 over the previous five.
Tulsa’s Plenette Pierson finished with 24 points, Riquna Williams had 22 and Diggins added 14 as the Shock were on their way to an 8-1 start after the first meeting. However, they’ve dropped six of eight since Diggins – who was named an All-Star starter – went down with a torn ACL.
Glory Johnson is also sitting out the season due to her pregnancy. Odyssey Sims missed the first matchup with Washington because of a knee issue, and she’s struggled through 33.3 percent shooting in seven games since returning.
Tulsa (10-7) will try to get on track following its third straight defeat and first in seven home games, 79-72 against Minnesota on Sunday. Williams had 19 points and Pierson contributed 15.
The Shock shot 39.1 percent, dropping their WNBA-worst percentage to 39.3. However, they still rank second in the league with 78.7 points per game.
The club’s majority owner, Bill Cameron, announced plans Monday to move the team to the Dallas-Fort Worth market. Cameron said in a statement that he hoped the league’s Board of Governors would vote as soon as possible on the relocation.
"This is a very difficult decision, and I know it is particularly difficult for the Tulsa investors," Cameron said. "From a business perspective, it was necessary to evaluate options to place the team and the organization in the best position to achieve financial success. After a thorough review, I believe the Dallas-Fort Worth area holds the greatest potential to achieve our long-term business objectives."
Ironically, the Shock are having their best season since moving.