WASHINGTON (AP) — Mystics point guard Ivory Latta missed shot after shot during regulation. She took over in the overtime session.
Latta scored 14 points and hit clutch shots in all three overtimes and the Washington Mystics survived 31 turnovers for a 92-84 victory over the Los Angeles Sparks on Sunday.
Rookie Bria Hartley paced four double-digit scorers with a season-high 20 points for the Mystics (3-2). Fellow UConn rookie Stefanie Dolson added 14 points and 11 rebounds.
“We hung in there. We executed down the stretch,” said Latta, who finished 4 of 17 from the field, but went 2 of 3 in the overtimes. All four of her baskets were 3-pointers with the final one giving Washington an 86-84 lead with 1:11 remaining in the third overtime.
Candace Parker had 32 points and 12 rebounds for the Sparks (2-2), who had won five straight over Washington. Los Angeles held leads in the final seconds of the first two overtime periods, but could not finish off the Mystics.
“We had a lot of chances to close it out,” Parker said. “Regulation, the first overtime, the second overtime. You play with fire so much you’re going to get burned.”
After missing a potential winning jumper in regulation, Latta sank an off-balance 3-pointer for a 66-66 tie with 5.9 seconds remaining in the first overtime. She also tied it at 78 on two free throws with 5 seconds left in the second overtime.
“You’ve shot it that many times in your life, you should feel like the next time you shoot it, the next one’s going in,” Mystics coach Mike Thibault said of his point guard. “Some players get afraid, and she’s not afraid.”
Los Angeles discussed this aspect of Latta’s game in preparation for the first of two matchups with Washington this season.
“It’s not about how many (Latta) gets but when she gets them,” Sparks coach Carol Ross said. “Latta likes to take over the fourth quarter and in this case the fourth, the fifth, the sixth, the seventh.”
The Sparks shot 33 percent from the field. Parker finished 10 of 28 while the starting backcourt of Lindsey Harding (13 points) and Alana Beard went 8 of 33.
Parker’s stat line also included six assist and six steals. She also made 11 of 12 from the free throw line, but her lone miss came on the front end of two attempts with 11.5 seconds remaining in the first overtime. Parker made the second try for a 66-63 lead, but then Latta followed with what Parker called “a crazy 3.”
Led by Hartley and Dolson, the Mystics reserves outscored their counterparts 63-10. Monique Currie and Jelena Milovanovic each scored 12 points.
In just their fifth professional game, Dolson and Hartley played extensively in the overtime period.
“I think (Thibault) has a lot of confidence in the two of us because he knows we know how to win (having) played at Connecticut,” said Dolson, who played over 40 minutes. “(I gained) a lot of trust in myself knowing that he trusted us and believed that we could win.”
Los Angeles turned Washington’s 31 turnovers into 36 points. Now can the Sparks will try to turn this losing effort into a positive.
“It depends on what do from here on as to if this is something really good, a learning a moment,” Ross said. “As coaches, that’s what we’re supposed to take these moments and turn them into.”
Notes: The Sparks played without guard Kristi Tolliver. The 12-point per game scorer was not with the team due to “Professional Business in Russia,” according to the team. She played for a Russian team before joining the Sparks this season.
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