WASHINGTON (AP)—The Mystics couldn’t take care of the basketball, yet still found a way to beat the lowly Tulsa Shock.
Monique Currie had 15 points as the Mystics (1-1) won despite committing 32 turnovers. Dating back to the 2011 season, Washington had lost five straight and 14 of 15 games.
“We didn’t particularly play well but we were able to come out with the win,” Ajavon said. “We have a lot of things to work on and we will practice and come out better.”
After Ajavon’s fast break layup put the Mystics ahead 58-43 early in the fourth quarter, the Shock stormed back with a 14-0 run. Following an exchange of baskets that kept Washington ahead, Tulsa regained possession after the Mystics, slow to move the ball across half court, were whistled for an eight-second violation.
Ivory Latta scored 16 points to lead the Shock (0-3), but committed a turnover on the next possession. The Mystics countered with Currie’s jump shot and a Langhorne free throw, extending the lead to 63-59 with 1:36 remaining.
“It was a crucial turnover that I had and I just felt like it was a turning point and gave them a little momentum,” Latta said.
Glory Johnson’s layup with 1:23 on the clock pulled the Shock closer at 63-61, but it would be the last basket of the game. Langhorne added another free throw with 4.1 seconds remaining, putting the Mystics up by three.
Following a timeout, Washington’s closing defense kept Tulsa from getting off a shot in regulation, allowing the Mystics to survive despite scoring only eight points in the fourth quarter.
“Obviously (I am) happy we were able to execute down the stretch and pull out the win,” Mystics coach Trudi Lacey said. “However I was not pleased with the types of turnovers and the number of turnovers we committed. Very simply, we have to make better decisions with the basketball.”
The Shock shot 30.5 percent (18-of-59) from the field and scored nine points in the third quarter. Dating back to last season, Tulsa has lost seven straight games, including a two-point heartbreaker against Phoenix on Tuesday.
“It’s very frustrating,” Latta said. “It’s like we’re one shot away or one layup or one pass or one something away from getting that win.”
Washington closed the second quarter on 12-1 run capped by Currie’s 3-pointer and led the turnover-plagued half 40-34. After the Shock scored the opening basket of the second half, a 12-2 spurt gave the Mystics their largest lead at 54-38.
The matchup between the owners of the two worst records in the league last season featured a disjointed first half filled with turnovers and missed opportunities.
The teams combined for more turnovers (25) than field goals (20) in the first half. Washington shot 57.9 percent (11-of-19) from the field and made 15-of-18 free throws before halftime, but also committed 16 turnovers. In two games this season, the Mystics have netted a combined 55 turnovers.
The Mystics second-leading scorer last season, Ajavon sat out the season opener with a sore knee. Coming off the bench against the Shock, she sparked the offense in the first half with 15 points, sinking 8-of-10 free throws.
“I got to the free throw line a lot which helped me and I played off of that,” Ajavon said.
“It was very nice to have Matee back,” Lacey remarked during the postgame. “She provides us with a lot of energy. She is tough and that’s what I’ve asked them to be.”
Beginning a season-long five-game road swing, the Shock turned the ball over 11 times in the first half and 19 overall.
Tulsa lost 15 of 16 road games during its trying 3-31 campaign last season.
Washington finishes its three-game homestand against reigning WNBA champion Minnesota on Wednesday. Tulsa plays at Los Angeles on Tuesday.