Mired in their worst stretch of this young season, the Washington Mystics must find a way to turn things around.
The reigning WNBA champions look to avoid a fifth straight defeat on Tuesday night against the Minnesota Lynx at the IMG Academy in Bradenton, Fla.
Washington probably knew it would be a challenge this season without stars like Elena Delle Donne (back), Natasha Cloud (personal choice) and Tina Charles (medical exemption). Out of the gate, things looked good as the Mystics opened 3-0, but they have since dropped four in a row.
After averaging 94.7 points in those first three contests, Washington put up only 78.3 over the last four. The Mystics shot 37.7 percent in a rather stunning 74-66 loss to lowly New York on Friday and matched that shooting percentage in their 91-84 defeat versus Indiana on Sunday.
With leading scorer Aerial Powers (16.3 points per game) nursing an apparent hamstring issue, Emma Meesseman scored 19 as the Wizards dropped four straight for the first time since a seven-game slide from 2016. Meesseman is one rebound shy of reaching 1,000 for her career.
Things won't get any easier against Minnesota (5-2), which is among the top teams in the league at the moment.
"It's going to be a tough game for us," forward Tianna Hawkins told the Mystics' official website. "Just knowing that (Minnesota is) going to be aggressive, we have got to be aggressive, too."
While the Mystics continue to struggle, the Lynx were riding a four-game winning streak before falling 97-81 to Los Angeles on Sunday. Minus star Sylvia Fowles because of a reported sore calf, Minnesota allowed the Sparks to shoot 65.5 percent from the field and go 13 of 22 from beyond the 3-point arc.
"We just didn't execute a lot of what we wanted to do," Minnesota coach Cheryl Reeve told the Star-Tribune.
While it's uncertain what Fowles' status for this contest will be, one bright spot during Sunday's loss was rookie guard Crystal Dangerfield. The former UConn star had 29 points while shooting 9 of 17 from the field.
"She's tough. She's unafraid," Reeve added to the Star-Tribune. "I can chew on her a little bit. She can miss a shot, she can make a turnover, but she's coming right back at you."
In addition to trying to rebound from their most recent loss, the Lynx will have a little extra motivation after losing all three 2019 meetings with Washington.