The Washington Mystics have hit their groove, they’ve found a rotation that works and have taken off. Now, at this point in the season it’s fair to say that everything said on Media day is starting to come into fruition. This is the healthiest the team has been all season and it shows just how strong a roster Coach Mike Thibault has assembled. Washington went into San Antonio last night and harassed the Stars from start to finish. Not letting up on the pressure until the game clock read 0.00. It was the second of back-to-back jaw dropping victories, a 32 point margin of victory. The 88-53 win gave Washington their fifth straight win as they enjoy a travel day and/or day of rest on their way to face the Chicago Sky tomorrow in the Windy City.
As for the contest against the San Antonio, the Mystics ran a class on execution and effort. This being the second consecutive game in which the opposing team was never close enough to have a single lead, Washington owned this game from start to finish. If this were baseball, the Mystics defense came very close to a perfect game. Holding the Stars to just 35% shooting from the floor, San Antonio did shoot 37.5% from deep but it paled in comparison to the numbers they gave up.
Washington shot 57% from the floor, including a blistering 60% from beyond the arc. The Mystics essentially have three starting bigs in Emma Meesseman, Stefanie Dolson, and Kia Vaughn. While the Mystics often push the pace, since their bigs are able to run the floor, they still play inside-out basketball. All three of their post players demand a double-team, but defenses can’t sacrifice sending the extra defender if it means leaving a shooter. Since reshuffling the lineup five games ago, Washington has offered every team they faced a horrible conundrum. Take away the inside baskets or the threes?
In just her third game of the season, Kia seemed to find her rhythm. Washington’s second unit, before we continue, a name has to be given to this unit. Three of last year’s starters are on this unit in Ivory Latta, Vaughn, and Bria Hartley. To further drive the point home, the second unit consists of nothing but first round picks. Definitely a slight insult or dig to refer to them as second to the Mystics starters, a name must be assigned.
Back to Kia Vaughn, the veteran big had a huge night. Scoring 15 points in just 19 minutes of playing time, Vaughn also pulled down six rebounds. Upon coming into the game, she made her presence known by immediately sealing her defender, getting the ball and scoring easily inside. The game was relatively close in the first quarter until Vaughn and Latta entered the game, that’s when Washington started to pull away. For a short while, the lead was purely predicated on the points scored by Kia. San Antonio just had no answers. The game prior, it was Latta and Tayler Hill that had huge nights off the bench. They combined for 38 against Seattle, but just 12 against the Stars. They just didn’t need to do as much with the night Vaughn had inside.
Sophia Young-Malcolm led the Stars with 17 points, she was really the only player that was able to create some breathing room to get her shot off. San Antonio All-Star Kayla McBride had a quiet night with 11 points, she shot well, but just took eight attempts. Mostly because of the defense from Washington, they barely gave her room to breathe. She’s a very good shooter and the Mystics made sure someone else in a Stars uniform was going to beat them, not Kayla.
First round Mystics pick Ally Malott got some time in the game late, Washington was up by 30 in the latter part of the second half. She came in and hit two triples and a mid-range jumpshot. The new starting point guard had another solid outing, nothing too flashy on her way to six points, seven assists, and four rebounds. Natasha Cloud’s best stat was that she only turned the ball over once, since getting the starting job, Washington is 5-0.
Again, this is the type of game a championship contender must win. The games they’re supposed to win, no one expected it to be by this margin though. Washington is now just a half game behind the East leading New York Liberty, this is definitely the time of year that a team wants to be peaking.
- LaToya Sanders was a very good pickup, she’s a well rounded player that has a penchant for big time blocks
- Bria Hartley is looking more comfortable in her movements, eventually the Bria that was killing in training camp will show up. Giving the Mystics another dangerous scorer off the bench
- Depth. The Mystics appear to be getting better, their depth is scary for teams to deal with. Washington has to have one of the top rosters in the league, top to bottom
- All-Star Front Court. In a game where they only played 20 minutes a piece, Dolson and Meesseman still managed to combine to score 26 points and pull down 13 rebounds. Stef also hit her fifth three pointer of the season