The Washington Mystics wasted no time showing that they learned from their loss to the Atlanta Dream this past weekend, Coach Thibault stating that they ‘gave one away at the start of his post game presser. Last night in New York, Washington made sure they wouldn’t suffer another late game collapse. Using a 15-2 run to pull away from the Liberty for a 74-59 victory. It would be Washington’s third win of the season, just New York’s second loss of the year, but the first in Madison Square Garden.
Second year center Stefanie Dolson played a big role in the win for Washington, impacting the game on both ends of the floor. Washington’s lone All-Star from last year, Ivory Latta, seemed to get going for the first time on the young season as well. The All-Star guard finished with 20 points, including three triples. Most of her buckets were timely ones, big time shots in what was a close game at one point.
Dolson had 15 points and six rebounds on the night, more importantly she played a huge role in slowing down the Liberty’s Tina Charles. Coming into the game, Charles was averaging 18 points and eight rebounds including a big game against Washington two weeks ago. This time, she mustered six points and seven rebounds on an abysmal 3-17 night from the floor. She started the game 0-7, Dolson did a great job of making her work and contesting every shot. Emma Meesseman also did a good job when she had to defend Charles. Stefanie played 32 minutes in the game, she had to as Kia Vaughn missed the game due to a concussion. The former first round pick did a great job stepping in Vaughn’s shoes and helping Washington to a victory over what was the top team in the Eastern Conference.
The game started slowly as both teams couldn’t buy a bucket, the first quarter ended in a 12-12 tie. Coach Thibault started the second period with an interesting lineup, truly taking advantage of the depth of his roster as the Mystics came out with a ‘small ball’ line up. It was Latta, Natasha Cloud, Tayler Hill, Kayla Thorton, and Ally Malott. That’s when Washington started to dictate the tempo and the terms of which the game would be played. With New York not getting their normal production inside, baskets were scarce. Washington used an 18-4 run to change the game, Latta got going during that stretch. Essence Carson was single handedly keeping the Liberty in the game in the first half, hitting several shots to keep the game close.
The Liberty continued to struggle in the second half due to the Mystics suffocating defense. The Mystics on the other hand were just getting started, Latta reminded the New York and those watching how dynamic of a scorer she is when she has it going. Dolson was displaying her entire offensive game, even stepping out and burying a triple. Once Kara Lawson and Hill hit a couple of shots, it was over. During that 15-2 run, Lawson scored eight consecutive points. The Mystics beat the Liberty for the second time this season
- Stefanie Dolson’s growth. The 2nd year big has shown that she can be a great compliment to another big or play the lead role if need be. Her passing is a joy to watch, had three assists and several other hockey assists. Low post game is improving and showed off the range by hitting a 3. Very good interior defense against Charles
- Ivory Latta. There’s a reason she’s an All-Star, Washington is a different team when she’s on. Showed her ability to take over a game in win over the Liberty
- Emma/Stef combo. While Kia Vaughn is still the starting center, the two youngsters work awfully well together. On both ends of the floor, they’ve displayed their skill and chemistry
- Tayler Hill is a luxury. The former 4th overall pick was forgotten last season by many, she’s a luxury for Washington. She’s a starter anywhere else in this league, but she’s coming off of the Mystics deep bench. Much more than just a 3pt bomber, has a complete game
- Ball Movement. Washington is down right scary on the offensive end, the ball hardly ever sticks as everyone has no issue moving the ball. Several possessions against the Liberty showed the high level
- Ally Malott. The Mystics 1st round pick made the most of her 11 minutes against the Liberty, scoring 10 points in 11 minutes. With Vaughn out, Ally was the backup center. She played solid defense, but showed her ability to stretch defenses by hitting two triples
- Boyd & Stokes. NY has two very good young players, they’re both trying to find their way right now but their ability is evident. The development of those two will be key if the Liberty wish to make it to the post season and make a run. Boyd’s an athletic guard with a good feel for the position and Stokes hasn’t even begun to show her wide array of talents on the offensive end