What went wrong on Thursday night in Washington, D.C.?
Las Vegas would host a Game 4 Tuesday if necessary, while Game 5 would be played back in the District next Thursday.
How she played in Game 2 may have been unfamiliar for some that were watching, but not for those in the Mystics locker room. "A lot of teams that have not been through this before would have been in a tough shape mentally at halftime". If the best player is giving herself up for a greater cause, others have no excuse not to do the same.
Washington missed their first three shots from long range to open the second half before Meesseman got one to fall. Even with Kristi Toliver, the lone player on the roster to have won a championship, when she was with the Sparks, out injured, the dominance in the league continues. On Thursday, Washington had to work to salvage momentum in the third quarter and did so thanks to another dominant stretch from Emma Meesseman - the forward who had a similarly successful third quarter in Game 1.
Meesseman hit a 3-pointer on Cloud's kickout, then fed LaToya Sanders for a layup that resulted in a three-point play.
Stopping Delle Donne and the three-point shot were the main areas of emphasis for the Aces on defense, and technically their strategy worked. Liz Cambage added 23 points and 10 rebounds. "So people were laughing when I was campaigning, but I was just making sure everyone knew who the real MVP was". Whereas now, I'm much more efficient and better at finding others. "I feel like she should at least get a couple 3-second, but I feel like I did my job", Sanders shared.
But it was the Aces' defense that stood out in the second quarter. Washington went up by 11 in the first quarter, but Las Vegas responded with an extended 33-15 run. After the game, an irate Aces head coach Bill Laimbeer seemingly shouted at the officials from midcourt, not for the non-foul call, but for not granting his team a timeout in the final seconds. She is the first player in WNBA history to win MVP honors with two different teams after doing so in 2015 with Chicago.
Las Vegas point guard Kelsey Plum, who scored 16 points off the bench, quickly scored a layup to cut the deficit to 97-95.
"I'm surprised they didn't call a timeout", guard Natasha Cloud said about the Aces' final possession.
The Mystics did well keeping Las Vegas close in the competition on the boards, gaining 28 rebounds to the Aces' 35, and just as critically, the free throw attempts were close as well: Washington edged Las Vegas there, 20-19.
The Mystics have had success since acquiring Delle Donne via trade from the Sky two years ago.
"Sometimes it's better just to survive", Thibault said. "We held serve. The next game will be the hardest game so far".