WASHINGTON – That’s more like it.
The WNBA champion Lynx on Thursday returned to the nation’s capital and ended their four-game losing streak where it began, beating the Mystics 88-80.
The Lynx (3-5) also visited Washington on May 27, blowing an 18-point lead and losing 90-78. They also lost their next three games for their longest losing streak in eight years.
“Obviously we were pretty desperate. We had dropped four in a row. The most in this team’s time together, the four or five who have been together,” coach Cheryl Reeve said. “… I thought we were pretty gritty, we held them to 11 in the fourth quarter. That was obviously the key to the game.”
Sylvia Fowles led the Lynx with 21 points and 12 rebounds. Maya Moore scored 19 points for the Lynx, who trailed 69-68 after three quarters but ended the game on an 11-3 run over Washington (5-4) to seal the victory before an announced 8,587 at Capital One Arena.
“We need to be able to come together and get stops and that is what we were able to do,” Moore said.
Seimone Augustus added 16 points to move into 11th place on the WNBA’s career scoring list, and Tanisha Wright scored 13 points off the bench.
“I felt like the last couple of days of practice and the last week or so even in the games, I felt like we were getting close,” Lindsay Whalen said. “You could feel like the momentum was shifting for us, and at some point we knew that we were going to break through and have a really good game together, and now it is building on it and making sure we are staying focused.”
Moore, Whalen and Rebekkah Brunson became the winningest trio in WNBA history. They have won 155 games with the Lynx, one more than Tamecka Dixon, Lisa Leslie and Mwadi Mabika with Los Angeles from 1997 to 2005.
Brunson hit only one basket Thursday, but it was a big one: Her three-pointer with 1 minute, 33 seconds to play gave the Lynx an 82-77 lead, at the end of a possession where her team got off four shot attempts. The Lynx had a 20-0 edge in second-chance points.
The Lynx won in front of a festive crowd. Originally slated for 6 p.m., the game was moved back to 3 p.m. to accommodate a Washington Capitals watch party for Game 5 of the Stanley Cup Final. Tickets for the game were free with attendees allowed to remain in the arena for the watch party as the Capitals defeated Las Vegas 4-3 to clinch their first championship.
“It was a good atmosphere. The crowd was into it,” Whalen said. “A lot of Mystics fans, a lot of Caps fans.”
Added Natasha Cloud, who scored 17 points for the Mystics: “How can you not have a blast in an environment like that?”
Kristi Toliver score 15 points for Washington, which has lost four of five. Elena Delle Donne returned after missing four games because of illness and scored eight points.