PHOENIX- Future Hall of Famer Katie Smith scored 11 points in the final minute, including a three pointer with 12.4 seconds remaining, as the Washington Mystics (11-5) defeated the Phoenix Mercury (5-11) 107-104 Thursday night.
“I knew the shot clock was winding down, so I was ready to shoot it when I caught it,” Smith said of her key shot. “A lot of people at certain points of the game made plays. I’m impressed with everybody.”
Smith’s dagger occurred just after Penny Taylor hit two free throws to cut Washington’s lead to one with half a minute left. Candice Dupree and DeWanna Bonner made field goals, but Smith hit six free throws to ice the game. Diana Taurasi hit a three pointer with 0.5 seconds left to make it 105-104, but after Smith was sent to the line again, her heave from the opposing zone just hit the back of the rim.
The three-time Olympic gold medalist and 36-year-old Smith finished with a game-high 23 points-17 in the fourth quarter- and was 5-of-10 from long range.
Mystics forward Crystal Langhorne scored 21 and grabbed nine rebounds.
“My teammates tried to get me the ball and into position, and then I can be aggressive and attack,” Langhorne said.
The Mercury has now lost six consecutive, its longest streak since 2005, including a 95-85 loss to the Mystics Sunday in the nation’s capital.
“It’s the little things that make big things happen,” Mercury coach Corey Gaines said. “They’re not quitting, they’re a little tired and beat up.”
Temeka Johnson registered her fifth career double-double (and second this week) with 15 points and 11 assists for Phoenix, and Dupree was one off with 23 points and nine rebounds. Taylor also scored 23, and Tangela Smith had 17.
After missing Tuesday’s game in Atlanta with a bruised lower back, Taurasi returned to the Phoenix lineup, but her 11 points were less than half of the league-leading 23 she averages.
“I think I could have done a lot more,” Taurasi said. “I don’t necessarily think we were outplayed. We played hard and did all of the right things. It’s just being unlucky, and certain days, things don’t go our way, so stick with it.”
Taurasi was limited to 27 minutes, but she still wounded up with the ball when the game was on the line.
“I was looking at her, and I knew she’s saying ‘I’m all right, I’m all right,’ but she’s just frustrated,” Gaines said.
Gaines did point out that with the weak Western Conference, with the exception of Seattle, the Mercury would still be in line for a playoff spot if the season ended today.
The Mystics entered the game with the WNBA’s second-best scoring defense (72.1 points per game), and Gaines’ system stretched them 30 points over.
Monique Currie (18), Lindsey Harding (13) and Marissa Coleman (12) also scored in double digits for Washington.
The Mercury returns to the court at 7 p.m. Saturday at US Airways Center, when Cappie Pondexter returns with the New York Liberty.