UNCASVILLE, Conn. - In Game 4 of the WNBA Finals - which they trailed by 18 points late in the first quarter and by 16 at halftime - the Washington Mystics came storming back thanks in large part to their bench players, most notably Aerial Powers and Emma Meesseman.

The two skilled reserves combined for 27 of the Mystics' 39 bench points, and consecutive baskets by Tianna Hawkins and Shatori Walker-Kimbrough gave Washington a four-point lead early in the fourth quarter. But the Mystics couldn't maintain that edge and ultimately fell, 90-86, to the Connecticut Sun on Tuesday at Mohegan Sun Arena.

On a night when no Mystics starter scored more than 14 points, Washington made the proceedings competitive by turning to what guard Natasha Cloud called the best bench in the league for the past two years. That allowed ailing starters Elena Delle Donne and Ariel Atkins to get a little rest.

"Phenomenal," Cloud said. "Shatori and A.P. came ready to play. Tianna and Emma gave us big minutes, but that is the depth of our team, and when [coach Mike Thibault] goes to our bench, that's what they can do."

Thibault played Meesseman more than 23 minutes and Powers close to 22, opting to sit starting center LaToya Sanders and Atkins, a starting forward, down the stretch as Washington made a final charge to grab an 81-79 lead with 3:59 left.

But the Mystics would not lead again. The Sun tied it with two free throws and got 3-pointers from Jasmine Thomas and Shekinna Stricklen sandwiched around a Meesseman three to make it 87-84. Cloud followed with a driving layup to get the Mystics within one, but they failed to score over the final 2:09.

The decisive Game 5 is Thursday night at Entertainment and Sports Arena.

"We have the highest-scoring bench in the league for the season, so we're used to that," Thibault said. "The bench got a whole lot better when Emma came back from overseas. It's the good and the bad of it. It's a nice thing as a coach to have a bench that can bail you out and do things. But it's tough if you have to rely on that as we have a couple times in this series."

Meesseman and Powers had opportunities in the final minute to put Washington in front.

With 54 seconds to play, Meesseman got into the lane after collecting a pass from Cloud and was in position for a layup, but the shot clanked off the front of the rim and Stricklen corralled the rebound. It was Meesseman's seventh and final missed field goal of the game. The two-time all-star finished with 12 points - all in the second half. She missed all five of her field goal attempts in the first half.

"I think we just changed our way of playing as a team," Meesseman said of the second-half comeback. "We moved the ball more. We passed more. We moved more. That's how I got my open shots that I'm used to."

Twenty-seven seconds after Meesseman's missed layup, Powers collected a pass in front of the Connecticut bench with an open look at a 3-pointer. But she missed, and Courtney Williams got the rebound for the Sun.

Powers's 15 points were her most during these playoffs. She had 18 points combined in the first three games of the Finals.

"It's good when the ball is dropping, but overall, I didn't feel good," Powers said. "Offense is good or whatever, but defensively as a team, that's where we're going to win, as you saw when we got the stops we got. Even though we got it going offensively, it doesn't really matter about me scoring at all. As a team, we have to be better on the offensive end and the defensive end."