The Washington Mystics had every reason to give in, down 21, missing two of their big guns in Tayler Hill and Elena Delle Donne. Hill is gone for the season, suffering an ACL injury on that long road trip. Delle Donne is out with a sprained ankle, after tumbling three spots down the standings, Washington couldn’t afford to head into the All-Star break with a loss. Washington had a character and chemistry building win over the Dream yesterday, rallying from 21 down to take the game in overtime in front of 11 thousand plus screaming kids on camp day. It took a total team effort to complete the rally, Washington got contributions from nearly everyone in their 100-96 victory over Atlanta.
Kristi Toliver had a huge night, knocking down seven triples en route to 29 points. She took 23 shots, 19 of which were the long range variety. Emma Meesseman started slow, but played a big role in the second half. She impacted the game on both ends, putting up a monster line of 18 points, 7 rebounds, 7 assists, 3 steals, and 5 blocks. The Mystics not only got back into the game with their defense, but won it due to their digging in on that end of the floor.
Atlanta was led by Tiffany Hayes(24 points) and rookie Brittney Sykes (27 points), their fast start gave them a 56-41 halftime lead. The Dream were stifling the Washington offense and doing a great job of punishing the Mystics in transition, Atlanta dominated the fast break battle 17-2.
None of that mattered as the game started move into Washington’s favor, the Mystics made a run in the third quarter. While they outscored Atlanta 23-16 in the period, they still trailed heading into the fourth, 72-64. The Dream were able to respond late in the quarter, but the energy in the Verizon Center had hit new levels at the start of the fourth.
Once again the “Goon Squad” or “Bench Mob” made a huge impact in this game, combining to score 38 points. In comparison, Atlanta got 17 points from their bench. Another big factor in this game was rebounding, Washington won the battle of the boards 42-35. While that may not seem like a large margin, the Mystics had 16 offensive rebounds to Atlanta’s 9. Krystal Thomas pulled down 17 rebounds, nine of which were offensive.
Washington’s offense started to flow better as their defense improved, Ivory Latta (18 points) hit two huge three pointers in the period. Toliver’s seventh triple tied the game for Washington and Emma had six points in the period as well. The Dream shot just 33% in the quarter, but managed to score enough to get the game to overtime. Toliver had a chance to win the game in regulation with 5 seconds left, but her long three pointer was off.
The overtime period was won by the Mystics, they held Atlanta to 28.6% shooting and outscored them 11-7. Tiffany Hayes hit two big three pointers in the period to keep the Dream in it, but Washington was able to close things out.
It was a big win for Washington and a great way to go into the All-Star break.