The Washington Mystics showed a lot of muscle and grit by defeating the Dallas Wings 86-76 in front of their home crowd last night at the Capitol One Arena. This win came less than two weeks after the Dallas Wings came into the Capitol One Arena and upset the Washington Mystics in a physical game. In that specific game Dallas guard Skylar Diggins-Smith had her way with the Mystics but that was not the case in this game with the second round of the playoffs on the line. Elena Delle Donne ended the game with her chin bruised up, Krystal Thomas had ice packs on both knees and Kristi Toliver’s voice was very hoarse at the postgame interview. The Mystics won the battle but the War is not over as they advanced past the 1st round of the playoffs for the first time since 2002. They now must play the New York Liberty in the second round of the WNBA playoffs on Sunday at Madison Square Garden.
The Mystics began this game showing some well needed intensity on the defensive end. They began with Tierra Ruffin-Pratt on Skylar Diggins-Smith and that seemed to ignite the fire under the Mystics. The previous game against the Wings Diggins-Smith had her way with Toliver and the Mystics by dictating the pace and flow of the game so it was a welcomed sight to see TRP lock in on Diggins-Smith. Both teams began the game by missing two shots in a row. Ruffin-Pratt ended the dry spell by telling her teammates to clear out so that she could take the defender to the basket with a sweet lay up. Krystal Thomas followed that by getting a nice block that fell off of a Dallas Wings player before it rolled out of bounds. The crowd and the Mystics bench went crazy after that play and it was a beautiful sight to see. The rest of the 1st quarter belonged to Emma Meesseman and Elena Delle Donne as they showed great chemistry with each other. If Meesseman and Delle Donne weren’t cashing in three pointers then they were scoring in the post.
The Mystics began the second quarter in the same fashion that they began the 1st. They played solid defense while also making good decisions on the offensive end. Mystics guard Ivory Latta who was 2/2 from behind the arc began the quarter by hitting a three point jump shot. Tianna Hawkins followed that up with a beautiful post fadeaway over the Dallas wings defender. Then Ivory Latta hit her second three pointer of the game and the crowd went crazy. Kristi Toliver followed that up by taking Skylar Diggins-Smith to the basket with a nice sweet layup. Elena Delle Donne and Meesseman scored back to back and it seemed as if the Mystics were going to run away with this game. As the quarter began to wind down the Mystics began to play very lazy on the offensive end. They began turning the ball over (which resulted in baskets for the other team) and they also got caught in Foul trouble which allowed Dallas to get easy point at the free throw line. Tianna Hawkins who gave the Mystics a nice spark when she entered the game picked up her 4th personal foul by fouling Diggins-Smith. Kristi Toliver turned the ball over to Aerial Powers who took the steal coast to coast for a easy lay up that tied the game up at 34 apiece. Aerial Powers scored 11 0f the 13 bench points for the Dallas Wings in the first half. That was monumental to their comeback because Dallas closed the half on a 13-0 run. During that run the Mystics were 0 for 7 from the field.
Skylar began the third quarter by scoring on a easy backdoor layup and that gave Dallas the lead. Emma Meesseman followed that up by hitting a nice three point shot from the top of the arc. The rest of this quarter belonged to Meesseman and Delle Donne as they began to do everything and anything that they wanted. The offensive game comes so easy to these two but it was a great sight to see them both locking in on the defensive side of the ball. The points will come in basketball because that is the easiest thing to do for professional athletes. Everything starts with rebounding and the defensive side of the ball and the Mystics did a great job of locking in on both categories during this entire game. The Mystics began this quarter with TRP on Diggins-Smith once again. They did a great job of playing team defense and rotating on defense as a team. The Mystics were daring Dallas to take jump shots and Dallas did not make them.
The fourth quarter was a very gritty and chippy quarter. Tianna Hawkins began the quarter by splashing a three point shot from the top of the arc. Meesseman followed that up by scoring on a put back after she missed the first attempt. The ball just seemed to roll the Mystics way in this game. Dallas made a slight run toward the end of this quarter. Toliver turned the ball over towards the middle of this quarter and Aerial Powers took the ball and passed it to Digins-Smith who scored on an easy layup that made the score 71-67. The Mystics failed to put their opponent away when they had them down and that can cost you against veteran teams. They began to play lazy on the offensive end as Toliver continued to struggle with her shot. The rest of this quarter was the Ruffin-Pratt (TRP) show. there’s more to the game of basketball than just scoring the basketball. Energy is real and TRP showed that by giving her all on the defensive side, the offensive side and she was also seen hustling and hitting the ground for every loose ball. Ruffin-Pratt did a great job of igniting the team with her energy, attitude and Defense. Things got very chippy as Ruffin-Pratt and Aerial Powers got tangled up in their fight for the ball. TRP showed much needed aggression and the crowd began to chant “T-R-P….T-R-P!” with about 1:33 left in the fourth quarter. Double tech’s were called on both players and Powers hit both of her free throws. Aerial Powers then scores on Dallas’s next possession but she is called for a technical foul for Swiping Meesseman across the face. Powers was ejected for picking up her second technical foul and Toliver’s two free throws basically put the game away for good.
The Mystics led the rebounding differential 52-42, and 20 of their rebounds came on the offensive side of the court. They had 25 second-chance points, compared to Dallas’s 15 and that was key to them winning this game. Elena Delle Donne ended the game with 25 points and 11 rebounds. Emma Meesseman added 16 points, 10 rebounds and five assists. Krystal Thomas ended the game with 17 rebounds. For Dallas Aerial Powers ended with a team high 21 points off of the bench, Glory Johnson had 15 points and 14 rebounds and Skylar Diggins-Smith also added 15 points.