WASHINGTON — — The Washington Mystics came into the WNBA Eastern Conference semifinals with a franchise-best 22 wins, a six-game winning streak and the top seed in the East.
The one thing they forgot to bring was their defense.
Washington's defensive shortcomings led to its 95-90 loss to the fourth-seeded Atlanta Dream on Wednesday night before 10,322 at Verizon Center.
"I was very disappointed with our defensive effort," coach Julie Plank said. "You can't give up 95 points. ... Whether we were in man or we were in zone, their dribble penetration hurt us a lot. We were fouling too much, and they pretty much got what they wanted."
The Mystics face elimination from the playoffs Friday when they travel to Atlanta for Game2. Washington hasn't won a playoff game since Sept. 25, 2004, a streak of seven consecutive losses.
This game set up as a classic matchup of offense vs. defense. The Mystics had held their opponents to a league-low 73.3 points per game during the regular season, while Atlanta had the second-most-prolific offense in the WNBA (85.4 points a game). On this night, offense won.
The Dream, which had stumbled into the playoffs, losing six of its last seven, made 53.5percent of its shots, scoring easily and often against the Mystics.
Angel McCoughtry (St. Frances) led the way for the Dream, scoring 28 points on 11-for-19 from the field, as four players scored in double figures for Atlanta.
Washington had five players in double figures, led by a career-high 18points from Marissa Coleman (Maryland).
"My main goal and role is just to bring energy and try to help out on defense," Coleman said. "We were down and had nothing-to-lose type of thing."
After falling behind by 17 in the second half, Washington rallied in the fourth quarter against a team it had beaten in three of four meetings this season. Coleman scored 14 points in the fourth quarter to propel the comeback. Her three-point play capped a 10-0 run by the Mystics. She made a 3-pointer a little more than a minute later to pull Washington to 71-66.
Matee Ajavon had the Mystics within 77-75 with 4 minutes, 34 seconds to play when she made all three of her free throws after getting fouled shooting a 3-pointer. But Washington could get no closer.
Crystal Langhorne (Maryland) scored Washington's first basket, making a layup 4:19 into the game. By then, the Mystics trailed 10-3.
"They just outplayed us," Langhorne said.