The Washington Mystics went through a dismal three-week stretch midway through the season, but they’ve fought their way back to .500 and into solid position in the Eastern Conference playoff race.
Washington looks to improve its postseason chances by earning a third straight victory Sunday on the road against the last-place Connecticut Sun.
The Mystics (15-15) lost seven of nine from June 15-July 5, including three losses to first-place Atlanta and another to Indiana, which along with New York and Chicago is battling for two of the final three East playoff spots.
Second-place Washington is two games behind the Dream but holds a 1 1/2-game edge on the Liberty and two-game advantage on the Sky and Fever. The Mystics have won eight of 11 since that tough stretch after beating Indiana 74-61 on Friday.
Kia Vaughn scored 22 points, her most in a game since 2012 and more than double her season average (9.3).
"I just went strong and aggressive, my teammates found me and I just made shots," Vaughn said. "We’re just a great team. We pass well and shoot the ball well and we are getting used to each other more and more as the season goes on."
The Mystics still have plenty of work to do in order to sew up a second straight postseason berth. They face Chicago on Wednesday before a rematch with the Sun on Friday, then finish the regular season at home the following day against the Liberty.
Connecticut (11-20) still holds faint playoff hopes, as it sits 2 1/2 games behind Indiana and Chicago. It has lost three straight after falling 71-66 to New York on Friday.
The Sun trailed by eight at halftime before taking a brief one-point lead in the third quarter. Katie Douglas scored a season-high 26.
"I’m disappointed that we didn’t come out with a better first half," Douglas said. "Not so much proud but I definitely liked our effort and fight in the second half. As professionals we have to do a better job coming out the gates."
Connecticut played its second consecutive contest without Chiney Ogwumike as she deals with an abscessed tooth, and it’s unclear if she’ll be available for this matchup. Ogwumike, the No. 1 overall pick and leading Rookie of the Year candidate, is averaging team highs of 15.9 points and 8.6 rebounds.
The Sun have back-to-back games against the Mystics before closing the regular season against Atlanta next Sunday.
Washington has won the previous three meetings this season. Ivory Latta scored 23 points to help overcome 18 and 10 rebounds from Ogwumike in an 89-75 victory in the most recent matchup July 23.