The Washington Mystics came home after a grueling seven day, three-game road trip to face the Chicago Sky for the second time this week. They played Thursday afternoon in Chicago, the Mystics took that game on the road and held on to beat the Sky last night at the Verizon Center. Last night was the first game they played without Emma Meesseman this season, she’s expected to miss a month or about 7-10 games as she’s competing for the Belgium National Team in a FIBA qualifying tournament. Washington definitely missed her, but they still got the job done and walked away with a 88-79 victory. Washington used their depth and a big third quarter run to take control of the game, they weren’t happy with their play in the fourth quarter, but they are now 3-2 on the year.
Washington started slow, particularly on the offensive end. They were getting good looks from running their offensive sets, but couldn’t knock down those shots. Similar to Thursday’s game, the second unit aka “The Goon Squad” as dubbed by guard Ivory Latta(10 points, 3 assists) came in and got things going. Latta, Natasha Cloud, and Tianna Hawkins(12 points, 5 rebounds) are the biggest members of that group. They helped Washington close the first half with a lead, holding an 18-8 lead in bench points after Hawkins hit a contested midrange jumper to close the half.
Right before that shot by Hawkins, Elena Delle Donne (20 points, 7 rebounds) wasn’t fully engaged on the offensive end. Their was a sequence that got her going though, she caught the ball on the block, pump faked a defender into the air before going up and finishing through contact for the layup. She then looked at the ref and asked for the and-1, it wasn’t given to her. Washington got a stop on the ensuing defensive possession, Delle Donne got the ball about two feet behind the three point line and didn’t hesitate into taking a walk up three pointer, it hit the bottom of the net.
The Mystics are still trying to get familiar with eachother on both ends of the floor, they gave everyone a brief stretch of how scary they could be when things are clicking on both ends after halftime. They went on a 19-0 run in the third quarter and outscored the Sky 20-8 in the period. Tayler Hill was coming off a down game in Chicago, that wasn’t an issue last night as she finished with 19 points, 5 rebounds, and 3 assists. It’s how she got her points that was impressive, some were off good ball movement and others were just beautiful moves in iso situations with the clock going down.
Things got chippy in that quarter between teams as well. Tierra Ruffin-Pratt and Stefanie Dolson got tangled up after a steal by TRP and several more collisions took place over the remainder of the game. While both teams have held a company line type policy about the obvious tension over the offseason trade, some things bubbled over during the course of the game.
Credit Chicago for refusing to roll over after that big third quarter from Washington. They came out in the fourth and outscored Washington 33-21, Tamara Young led the charge in the final quarter on her way to 16 points. Allie Quigley and Courtney Vandersloot hit big shots as well, the two had 17 and 10 points respectively. It was Vandersloot’s first minutes of the season as she flew in from Turkey on Thursday. The Sky also got 10 points from second year player and former Mystics Kahleah Copper. Cappie Pondexter didn’t have a great night shooting, but she is very dangerous in her new role of facilitator, finishing the contest with 8 assists.
The Mystics play their next game on Wednesday when they host the Connecticut Sun for a matinee matchup.