Glory Johnson leads Dallas, Mystics fall 87-83 to Wings’ last-second surge

Glory Johnson drives past Krystal Thomas. Photo: NBAE/Getty Images.
Glory Johnson drives past Krystal Thomas. Photo: NBAE/Getty Images.

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Dallas Wings stunned the Washington Mystics Sunday afternoon, earning a 87-83 win late in the fourth quarter at the Verizon Center. Washington head coach Mike Thibault said the last-second surge caught the Mystics by surprise.

“Give Dallas credit for hanging in,” Thibault said on the loss. “I thought Glory Johnson played a terrific game for them. This is one of our more disappointing losses, in how we lost. Two of the things we have emphasized in playing them, and everyone else, is keeping people off the three-point line and make them dribble into jump shots.“

The Mystics didn’t get things running offensively until the final minutes of the first quarter but the late surge helped them outscore the Wings 21-18 to begin the game. The same energy and consistency continued throughout the first half, with guard Tierra Ruffin-Pratt leading the Mystics. A usual defensive weapon, Ruffin-Pratt was the first Mystic in double digits, leading the first half with a team-high 13 points.

“What team’s do is try to pick their poison against us,” Thibault said on Ruffin-Pratt’s success. “They try to limit other people and it gave her opportunities in the first half.”

Dallas starters Skylar Diggins-Smith, Allisha Gray, and Johnson all left the first half with 10 points, with little help from the bench and struggles to fight offensive strides from the Mystics. Foul trouble contributed to the offbeat Wings.

Wings’ center Theresa Plaisance had four fouls early in the third period, then picked up the fifth less than a minute later. The offensive fuse for the Mystics blew out in the third quarter, giving the Wings an opportunity to find late rhythm and consistency.

“Their defense was more physical and they made it a catch for us,” Thibault said on Wings’ adjustment. “We didn’t have a ton of turnovers but the ones we had led us to fast-pace situations and live ball turnovers.”

Johnson took control for Dallas by steering clear of blocks and minimal shooting windows, finding success wherever she could. The third quarter foreshadowed trouble for the Mystics. Johnson added a quarter-high 16 points to her 10 from the first half, cutting the 12-point Washington lead to just seven. She finished with a team-high of 27 points.

“She plays really hard,” Thibault said on Johnson’s dominance. “You don’t really expect her to make threes. When you play her, you try to take away her inside game and you can live with her on the perimeter. Today she hit everything.”

Johnson accounted for 20 points of the Wings’ 30 in the paint.

“Especially with post players a little bigger than me, I had to figure out something else that would work,” Johnson said on her versatile performance. “Just because they’re bigger than me doesn’t mean they’re faster than me, so then I started driving to the basket. My teammates stayed with me, so that was nice.”

Though in double digits for the Mystics, forward Elena Delle Donne had a peculiar night on offense. She didn’t give the Mystics the defensive edge, demanding another stellar performance from Krystal Tomas and Ruffin-Pratt. Thomas finished with the team high of 7 rebounds, while Delle Donne finished with 14 points, two rebounds and four assists.

In the final quarter, the Wings trailed 66-59. The Mystics closed the holes in their defense to spot another 10-point quarter in the paint for the Wings but fast break points and three-point shooting from the Wings’ lifted them late in the final quarter. Diggins-Smith and Plaisance shot four of the five three pointers in the fourth quarter to help the Wings outscore the Mystics 28-17 in the last ten minutes.

“I thought we were kind of over-defending and trying to really pinpoint a lot on their shooters on the outside, which left the inside open a lot,” Wings’ head coach Fred Williams said. “So the last few timeouts we were talking about helping more on the weak side and not staying on the ball too much.”

With five Mystics in the double digits for scoring, single digit turnovers and only shy of the Wings’ 35 total rebounds by five, what served as the fault for the last-second mishap? Though the numbers may be deceiving, Thibault said the sense of urgency and lack of adjustment cost the Mystics the game.

“They were a more desperate team,” Thibault said on the Wings’ late-game play. “I think we kind of hit them a little bit with our pace of the game and they were more prepared for it.”

Diggins-Smith finished with the second highest of the team with 19 points, eight assists and seven rebounds. She said the Wings’ initial plan was to limit the usual stars of the Mystics. She also had a technical foul at the final 8:19 mark of the game.

“We were trying to limit Delle Donne’s touches tonight, and just attack.” Diggins-Smith said. “I think we were more the reactors in the first half. We got to the line 19 times in the second half, I think we were showing our aggressiveness”

Delle Donne said the loss can only teach Mystics what they need to do to close out games and gather themselves to succeed through the entirety of the game.

“”We had a lot of defensive lapses where we let certain three-point shooters get open, so definitely a lesson learned to get better on defense and continue to improve that way” Delle Donne said.

The Wings evened the season series between the teams to 1-1 with the win. The Mystics, now 7-4, are tied for first with the New York Liberty and look forward to facing the Minnesota Lynx again on June 23. The Wings improved to 5-8 in the win and will face the San Antonio stars on June 21.


  • This is the second of three meetings for the Mystics and Wings
  • The Wings even the series 1-1, winning 87-83
  • Wings outrebounded the Mystics 35-30
  • Tianna Hawkins had a team-high of 7 rebounds
  • Points in the Paint: Mystics: 40 (20/36) Wings: 30 (15/26)
  • 2nd Chance Points: Wings: 15 (4/11), Mystics: 10 (4/8)
  • Fast Break Points: Mystics: 7 ( (3/8), Wings: 4 (4/4)
  • Technical Fouls: Individual Diggins-Smith 8:19, 4th Mystics: NONE
  • Technical Fouls: Wings: NONE Mystics: Three Second Violation: 6:35 1st, 1:04 1st, 1:54 th
  • Biggest Lead: Mystics: 13 Wings: 4
  • Lead Changes: 2 Times Tied: 5
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