Latta leads the way in Mystics playoff opener victory at Atlanta
The Washington Mystics earned a big 71-56 win on the road against Atlanta in their opener of the Eastern Conference semifinals best-of-three series Thursday night. Point guard Ivory Latta led a quartet of Mystics in double figures. She finished with 14 points while Kia Vaughn and Crystal Langhorne had 12 each. Monique Currie scored 10.
Washington won its first playoff game since 2004. The Mystics were 0-2 in each of their last three appearances (2006, 2009, 2010).
“Obviously a road win in the playoffs in a huge win, especially to start the series,” said Mystics coach Mike Thibault. “I felt for the most part our defense was really good, and we rebounded the ball well. We turned it over early, but we took better care of it as the game went on. The rebounding made a huge difference between Langhorne, Vaughn and (Michelle) Snow. So we’ll take it being 1-0 on the road, feels great.”
For Atlanta, two-time WNBA scoring champion Angel McCoughtry finished with 20 points. Before the game, the league awarded her the 2013 WNBA Peak Performer Award. She led the league in scoring with 21.5 points per game. The fifth-year veteran averaged more than 20 points for the fourth consecutive year and shot 41 percent from the floor.
The Mystics held Atlanta to 56 points and 26.7 percent shooting, which were both team playoff records. The field goal percentage was also lower than any Mystics opponent this season (previous low: 30.9 percent on July 21 by Indiana).
The Mystics enjoyed a 48-36 rebounding advantage, and had more assists (21) than Atlanta had baskets (20).
Langhorne had a double-double, with 15 rebounds in addition to her 12 points. She had four double-doubles during the regular season, and the 15 rebounds were just one shy of her regular season career high.
The series resumes in Washington Saturday night when the Mystics can clinch a place in the conference finals with a victory.
Atlanta Dream Head Coach Fred Williams
“What I thought tonight, as far as shooting, outside and chip shots that didn’t go down, set the tone for Washington to get a run, especially in the second half. Getting 70 attempts and making 20 is not acceptable. I thought we had a lot of close shots inside the paint that we could have taken advantage of, but it didn’t happen for us and they were able to get out with their wing players and give us some pressure going back on defense.”
“You look at the little intangibles of loose balls and rebounding, they won a lot of those situations. We are going to look at some film, break it down, and get back after it. Washington played hard, they did what they needed to do and we just tried to play catch up ball the rest of the way.”
On Erika de Souza’s struggles…
“Plays went into her in the paint and they just didn’t go down for her. It was bad shooting there for her and she knows that and she knows what to do to make those adjustments for the next game. You can’t ask for better shots, sometimes they just roll off the rim and it was one of those nights for her.”
Atlanta Dream Guard Jasmine Thomas
On the Dream’s defense…
“A lot of it, they were hitting shots from the outside. Their posts were hitting shots, a lot of attention is put on (Ivory) Latta and she was finding her open post players and they were knocking them down”
On the mood of the team…
“Everybody is mad. To have home court advantage, which we worked so hard for, and to come out and play the first game like that is disappointing, but we still very much want to win. So everyone is ready to go to practice tomorrow and turn it around. You have to have a sense of urgency from the jump.”
Washington Mystics Head Coach Mike Thibault
“Obviously a road win in the playoffs in a huge win, especially to start the series. I felt for the most part our defense was really good, and we rebounded the ball well. We turned it over early, but we took better care of it as the game went on. The rebounding made a huge difference between Langhorne, Vaughn and Snow. So we’ll take it being 1-0 on the road, feels great.”
On their defense against Angel McCoughtry…
“Well I think the biggest thing is to make her work hard. Even when she went on her run, she did a little bit atypically in the sense that she struggled for the most part during the year making threes. And she shot those back-to-back threes, which I thought gave her some confidence. But we would prefer her to do that as oppose to her getting layups and getting to the free throw line. I think we did a good job for the most part in not fouling her, and playing with our hands straight up, causing her to make tough shots.”
Washington Mystics Forward-Center Crystal Langhorne
On her performance…
“I was just trying to focus on other things to help our team win. I haven’t been playing too well, so I said let me rebound and do a few things here, set good screens, just to help our team.”
On what they will take away from this win…
“This is a huge win for us. This is my first time winning a playoff game here. I think we played really well tonight, and it is great for our confidence.”
Washington Mystic Guard Ivory Latta
On her run in the third quarter…
“Yes, I had a good run in the third quarter, but I give that all to my teammates. It was all because of my teammates setting good screens and me just trying to find the holes and push the ball.”
On their defense tonight…
“We played great defense tonight. It was stretches when we felt like an unbelievable team. I just know we had to protect the paint and that was our main thing. We definitely tried to apply a lot of pressure on Angel and make everyone take tough shots, and make sure we got the rebounds. Langhorne had an outstanding game with rebounds. Also, we pride on our defense a lot. Communication is a big key to defense. So I know whenever our defense is on like that then our offense will be great.