Mike Thibault unhappy with Mystics’ effort in frustrating loss to Sun

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The Mystics had another lackluster outing Sunday in a 76-63 loss to the Connecticut Sun in Bradenton, Fla., trailing for all but nearly the first five minutes of the game, and Thibault wasn’t happy about it.

“It’s another disappointing day,” Thibault said. “I said to them we have some soul searching to do about how we’re going to play out the next two weeks. Are we going to give into all this, or are we going to play?

“You’re a pro basketball player. You get paid. I’m a pro coach. I get paid. Our job is to show up and do the best that we can. If it’s not good enough and we play hard, that’s okay. . . . I just don’t like the way that — if you make a mistake, it should be corrected. You can’t make the same mistake four times in the same quarter on the same play. Those things can’t happen.”

The Mystics (4-11) didn’t muster much energy throughout the late afternoon and looked a step slow and sloppy at times. They couldn’t get defensive stops for much of the game until Connecticut (7-9) took its foot off the pedal after taking a 20-point lead late in the third quarter.

A familiar face helped put Washington in an early hole. Forward Essence Carson was waived by the Mystics on Aug. 16 and immediately picked up by the Sun. She scored all eight of her points in the first quarter Sunday, including back-to-back three-pointers that gave Connecticut a lead it would not surrender. Former Maryland guard Kaila Charles had a career-high 16 points for the Sun, burying three three-pointers.

The Mystics also had no answer for DeWanna Bonner, who finished with a game-high 20 points and added 11 rebounds. Former Maryland forward Alyssa Thomas had 16 points, 11 rebounds and eight assists. The banged-up Sun played only seven players after starting point guard Jasmine Thomas aggravated a foot injury and didn’t return after the first quarter.

“I knew that I had to do my part and more because we were missing some key players,” Charles said. “I just wanted to make sure I was doing the best I could, whether it was on defense or offense. If I was open, being confident enough to take the shot and knock it down. . . . It was really important for me to just go out and make an impact today.”

The Mystics were stagnant on offense and displayed the unwanted combination of questionable decision-making and poor shooting. Washington shot just 32.2 percent from the field and 30.8 percent from behind the three-point arc. It also had 16 turnovers that killed much-needed possessions. Emma Meesseman and Ariel Atkins scored 14 points apiece, and Myisha Hines-Allen finished with 12 points, 13 rebounds and six assists.

Thibault lamented the fact that Meesseman took just five shots from the field.

“We’re kind of taking rushed shots or just not good shots all around,” Hines-Allen said. “First of all, we have to play through Emma. That’s no secret. . . . We’ve just got to get her back involved.”

Thibault has said all along that a big part of the 2020 season will be evaluating for the 2021 campaign, when Elena Delle Donne, Tina Charles, Natasha Cloud and LaToya Sanders are all expected to be back. Those evaluations may have an even harsher tone if things don’t change soon.

“What I’m going to do is do my job every day,” Thibault said. “I’m going to come in with the coaching we’ve done for eight years in D.C. There’s an acceptable way and a not acceptable way to play, and I’m going to coach that way. I expect them to play that way, with focus and energy. That’s going to be the expectation. That will tell me a lot about people going forward.”

Note: The Mystics are asking opponents to join them in taking a 24-second violation at the start of each quarter to further their social justice activism. The team has decided to focus on voter registration and is providing television announcers with information on the topic to be read during the violations.

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