Mystics defeat short-handed Sky 79-68
WASHINGTON (AP) Emma Meesseman needed a confidence boost after two straight games without a field goal. She expressed concerns to her coach and Washington Mystics teammates.
Since then, the Belgium native has reached scoring highs in consecutive games. The latest came against the reeling Sky, who played without Elena Delle Donne and could use a spark of their own.
Meesseman took advantage of Delle Donne's absence for Chicago to finish with career highs of 16 points and 11 rebounds to lift the Washington Mystics to a 79-68 victory over the short-handed Sky on Friday night.
Bria Hartley had 13 points and Tianna Hawkins added 10 to help the Mystics (5-5) snap a three-game losing streak.
Meesseman had her first career double-double and made 7 of 11 shots from the field. After missing all six of her attempts in losses to Indiana and New York, she is 14 of 21 over the last two games.
''(I) had some games that were tough for me so I had some talks with (coach Mike Thibault), the players to bring back my confidence,'' Meesseman said. ''Knowing players are behind me - I can play basketball too. That's what I'm trying to do.''
The young Mystics - seven of the 12 players are in their first or second year in the league - scored 50 points in the paint and outscored Chicago 25-15 in the fourth quarter while making 10 of 17 field-goal attempts in the period. Hustle plays fueled a 10-0 run early in the fourth for a 64-55 lead.
Delle Donne, the WNBA's second-leading scorer, missed a second straight game for Chicago while receiving treatment for a reoccurrence of Lyme disease. The Sky have played without center Sylvia Fowles (hip) all season and were also missing Jessica Breland (right shin).
''We're going to have to play a lot better when we play them down the road,'' Thibault said. ''You put Delle Donne and Fowles back out there it's a little bit different game. ... As young as we are, the things we're trying to learn, it was progress tonight.''
Allie Quigley scored 18 points and Epiphanny Prince had 17 for the Sky (5-5), who lost their fourth straight. Chicago shot 38.2 percent from the field against the WNBA's top defense.
The game included 10 lead changes and eight ties before the Mystics fourth quarter surge. The Sky pulled within five points twice during the fourth, but never closer over the final 4:45.
Delle Donne did not travel to Washington. She was previously diagnosed with Lyme disease while playing at the University of Delaware.
''It's just hard to tell right now,'' Sky coach Pokey Chatman said of when Delle Donne might return. ''We'll re-evaluate on Monday.''
Chatman also said Fowles and Breland have medical appointments on Monday afternoon.