Connecticut’s head coach Curt Miller was excited about his team’s historic start, he also cited the shape the Washington Mystics were in after his team’s 88-64 victory. Specifically how the recent schedule for Washington may have left them with dead legs on their long jump shots. The Sun are now 5-0 this season, while Washington falls to 5-3. Jasmine Thomas led the way for Connecticut with 25 points, most of the damage was done in the first half. The Mystics were led by Ariel Atkins with 14 points. The Sun had everyone at their disposal and they were able to wear Washington down with their depth, they also did a great job of closing quarters and halves strongly. The Mystics did make a few runs to get back in it, but they weren’t able to sustain them.
Washington has gotten off to several slow starts this season and have typically responded well afterwards. This was not one of those occasions, after an ice cold start from the field, the Mystics found themselves down by 18 after the first quarter. Jasmine Thomas and Courtney Willims did something teams did last year, they picked on Kristi Toliver when they were matched up on her and it paid off early. Thomas scored 12 of her 18 first half points as the Sun jumped out to a 30-12 lead.
The Sun continued their run to start the second quarter, but the Mystics showed some fight midway through and responded with a big run of their own. At one point, they cut the deficit to just two points courtesy of a rebound an dputback by rookie Myisha Hines-Allen. Then, Connecticut responded and closed the half strong. Their run started with a three pointer by Jasmine and then an and-one conversion by Chiney Ogwumike (11 points, 9 rebounds). The Sun would lead 49-35 at the break, shooting 54% from both the floor and three point line. The Mystics struggled to get any traction on the offensive end, at least from a consistent standpoint. Their poor shooting from beyond the arc, coupled with their inability to get stops certainly isn’t a good recipe for starting or completing a rally.
Washington started the second half strongly by putting an emphasis on the defensive end. They got a couple of stops and quick baskets to cut the deficit to 10. A couple of possesisons later, Jasmine Thomas was being guarded nearly full court by Tierra Ruffin-Pratt, the Mystics guard was able to draw an offensive foul. It looked as if Washington was going to turn the corner after that possible momentum changing play. Instead, the Sun responded with a haymaker to close the third quarter. When the dust settled, Connecticut held a 74-47 edge heading into the fourth.
It wasn’t a good night for the Mystics, the three-ball didn’t fall and they didn’t do nearly enough on the defensive end. The first thing that came to mind is what Coach Thibault said a few games ago about the starting lineup still being up in the air or at least up for discussion during the first 10 games of the season.
It’s clear that (Coach) Miller has a healthy respect for Washington and who they are as a healthy unit, still he talked about the importance of his team getting off to a good start in May. Washington first needs to get healthy, and secondly needs to find the starting group that gives them their best opportunity to win night after night. It’s one loss, not the end of the world by any means, but they can’t afford for this slide to continue. Elena Delle Donne missed her fourth consecutive game.
The Mystics get a few days to recover from their trip and time to forget this game, their next game is Thursday when they host the Minnesota Lynx.