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Final score: Storm 82 – Mystics 76 (W) (4-0)

Attendance | 6612

Box Score | Jayda's Game Blog | psheehy's Game Blog | Live from Press Row

Game Photos | Scott E | Rick | Scott L | Toni

I don't know how much more of this I can take. Getting behind by double digits only to come back in the fourth quarter for the win makes for exciting basketball, but it's a dangerous way to play the game.

The cliché is to say that the game was a story of two halves. This one was more like a story of three and a half quarters and the other half quarter.

Washington truly controlled this game well into the third quarter. They out muscled, out hustled and out played the Storm from the get go. In what appears to be an emerging pattern, the Storm were getting pushed around and beaten up under the basket. Again, it seemed that at every position the opponent had bigger and stronger players who were able to dictate the pace and flow of the game.

Storm vs Mystics  23

The Mystics were very active at the beginning of the game on defense, disrupting the Storm by jamming passing lanes and seemingly easily reading when the Storm were throwing the ball into the post. There were a lot of Storm turnovers from lacksidasical passes and quick Mystic defenders.

One play that stood out as a sign that the Storm didn't have their head in the game came near the end of the first quarter. The Storm defense forced a Mystics' shot clock violation. A shot went up and hit the rim as the shot clock buzzer sounded and La'coe got the rebound. She stopped and walked with the ball, expecting that the refs had called a dead ball on the violation. They hadn't. Instead of getting the ball back as a reward for good defense, Willingham turned it over and gave it right back to the Mystics. Washington turned around on their next possession and got a bucket.

It wasn't just that the Mystics were disrupting the Storm's offense, they were shredding the Storm defense as well. Lindsey Hardinig was slicing and dicing for her own shots and finding Currie or Langhorne for theirs.

During the second quarter, the refs asserted themselves and even their floor-colored jerseys couldn't disguise how much they were altering the game. Veselá came in instantly got called for a couple quick, ticky tacky fouls. LJ got called for a blocking foul on a drive by Sanford in which LJ had her back to the basket, Sanford drove by and used her left arm to hold off LJ while she layed up the ball with her right arm. LJ was straight up and down. There was no body contact, just the arm contact that Sanford initiated. Foul on LJ. Tanisha got called for a blocking foul as she moved sideways keeping pace as a Mystics player drove from the three point line across the lane. Tanisha had her hands up and kept her feet moving. Still, a foul.

Storm vs Mystics  20

The last few minutes of the second quarter were almost hard to watch. Washington completely controlled the paint on both ends and was scraping for every rebound and loose ball. There wasn't any of the defensive intensity or determination that we had seen in the first couple of Storm home games. Still, the Storm only ever let the score get up to a 13 point lead. The way the Storm were playing in the first half, they were lucky to only be down by 13.

At the end of the half, LJ had two points, Sue had three and Camille had nothing. Real concern was building.

Storm vs Mystics  38

The third quarter started just as rough. LJ was getting mugged and not getting anything from the refs while Washington was getting fouls on nearly every possession. The killer play that had me really worried that things might get out of control was Katie Smith shooting a three over Tanisha. At some point, I didn't notice when, Katie started taking on more of the ball handling responsiblity. She was leading the plays and at times bringing the ball up the court. On the killer play, she had the ball at the top of the three point line with Tanisha guarding her. The clock was running down and she really didn't have any options to dish out the ball. She did this sick shake and bake move getting Tanisha off balance and then rose up and sank the three.

Instead of that pushing the Mystics forward, it mearly slowed down the Storm a little bit as they started to turn things around. Little bits at a time, the Storm chipped away at the lead. They started to get their shots to fall and started to disrupt the Mystics' offense. I think part of it was the Mystics' decision to give the ball to Smith. With Harding taking a secondary role, her team couldn't feed off her aggressive moves. Katie is bigger and stronger, but Harding is much faster and more slippery.

The Storm finally got a head of steam going into the fourth quarter. Svetlana and La'coe came off the bench and were able to inject some energy into the game. Svet hit a big three to really get the Storm rolling. La'coe finally started beating her defenders in the post and hitting some baskets. The Storm made an important adjustment in that they started getting the ball in to the post sooner and the post players started making their moves to the basket quicker, getting their offense moving before the bigger and stronger Mystics defenders could react. In the first half, the Mystics were beating the Storm to their spots. In the fourth, it was the Storm beating the Mystics.

Storm vs Mystics  58

And beat them they did. The Storm were running away with the game. Up by 11 and looking good with three minutes, the Storm showed once again that they are having a hard time playing with a lead. A bad pass, bad shot and then a foul lead to six quick Mystics' points. The Mystics got it down to three points with a minute left but they couldn't come all the way back. Swin hit a big jumper and then Sue hit free throws to close out and win the game.

Storm vs Mystics  73

It was a great, exciting finish to the game and that's always fun. But, this kind of pattern can only be dangerous in the long run. 4-0 is the Storm's best start ever and I like the flashes of defensive brilliance we've seen over these first few home games. If the Storm can start putting together complete games instead of having great quarters, they might be unbeatable.

Other notes:

The introduction line was back to normal with the team lining up along the free throw line. I was relieved.

There was a half-court shot contest at halftime and one of the girls hit it on the first try. Angie was like, "Sign her up."