Coach Cheryl Reeve saw through her team’s recent ability to overcome large deficits. Those rallies propelled the Lynx to lead the WNBA in double-digit comebacks with six, but were also telltale signs of possible flaws in the system.
Those flaws were exposed Wednesday night in a thwarted comeback effort at Target Center. The Washington Mystics embarrassed the Lynx in their return home 79-61 for consecutive wins against the league’s top team.
The Lynx (18-8) lost to the Mystics (15-9) on Sunday in Washington and lost back-to-back games for just the second time this season — both sets of defeats coming in August.
The Lynx are 4-4 this month and have trailed by double-digits in each of their past four games.
“I just think [Wednesday] that frustration set in for this team,” Reeve said in a postgame news conference that was abruptly cut short. “It’s hard to play when you’re frustrated. It just compounds problems.
“I think that was probably the difference. In the other [comeback] games we didn’t get frustrated. We kind of stayed the course. We knew there were a ton of possessions left.
“This team is really, really prideful. They’re winners … and so they’re in a place right now where frustration set in.”
The frustration was apparent late in the fourth quarter when Maya Moore went to bench and tossed her towel in a sign of defeat.
Reeve’s disappointment showed up late in the second quarter when she was called for a technical foul as the Lynx fell behind 27-21. The Mystics built a nine-point lead late in the half and eventually pulled away in the third quarter.
Washington grabbed its first double-digit lead late in the third quarter when Ivory Latta scored two of her 16 points. The lead grew to 23 in the fourth led by Kara Lawson’s game-high 20 points.
“[The Mystics] started knocking down three-balls and had a great bounce in their step and then the bottom fell out for us,” Reeve said. “It didn’t feel very good for [our players]. As I told them, ‘This is a process and we’re on a journey right now. We have not yet peaked.’ ”
Reeve’s concern about her team came across in a three-plus hour meeting with the four captains — Moore, Lindsay Whalen, Seimone Augustus and Rebekkah Brunson — Tuesday morning. Whatever was addressed still needs to be sorted through.
Moore scored just 10 points on 2-for-10 shooting — almost 14 points under her average of the previous 17 games — and had five rebounds and four assists after being honored as the Western Conference Player of the Month before the game.
Augustus showed signs of improvement in her third game back after knee surgery with 11 points. Sylvia Fowles led the Lynx with 13 points, Brunson had 12 points and 11 rebounds.
“There’s just some things we’re going to have to work through on the offensive end to be more efficient,” Moore said.
The Lynx shot a season-low 34.4 percent while the Mystics made 44.6 percent of their shots. The Lynx’s 61 points tie a season low, well below their average of 77.3.
“It wasn’t flowing that well. … Offensively both sides of the ball we just need to be better,” said Whalen, who had four points and three assists. “We weren’t making shots and had a couple turnovers. The flow wasn’t great. We’ll work on it.
‘‘We’ve got a game on Friday, so we just have to regroup and focus and get ready for that.”