The Washington Mystics have struggled mightily at home this season. It’s been a combination of things, whether it’s slow starts, sloppy ball handling, or just poor shot selection. However, they’re a totally different team on the road. That wasn’t the case against the Dream to start a five game home stand. They jumped all over the Dream and beat them from wire to wire. Emma Meesseman and Tayler Hill led the charge with 15 and 14 points respectively. It was a balanced attack as every Washington player scored and they received 48 points from the bench, three players scored in double-figures.
Washington started the game with a 16-7 run, getting the crowd involved early on. It started at the defensive end, they were extremely active and sound in their assignments. Emma and Tayler got off to good starts, Hill had a highlight worthy jab step. Yes, a jab step. She was using a screen set by Emma, jabbed Layshia Clarendon so hard that she went under the screen. Tayler then calmly buried the wing triple.
The second quarter started the same for Washington. Their second unit, championed by vets Ivory Latta and Kia Vaughn, came on and continued the run. Kahleah Copper and Bria Hartley were a part of it as well, defending and attacking the basket when afforded the opportunities. Atlanta would make a run, but it wasn’t on the scoreboard. There was a three minute stretch in which they committed three fouls, that led to Atlanta being in the penalty for the remaining 6:37 of the half.
Washington still continued to play defense and they were fairly disciplined, avoiding sending players to the charity stripe. The Mystics pushed the lead to 17 at one point, but Atlanta’s Matee Ajavon came off the bench and hit a couple big triples. Angel McCoughtry who came into this game averaging just under 20 points a game, was held to just six in the first half (10 for the game). With five of those points coming in the last two minutes of the half. Stefanie Dolson grabbed a rebound in traffic an fired a Kevin Love-like outlet pass down to a streaking Tierra Ruffin-Pratt for an easy two. The Mystics led 47-34 at the break, shooting 51% from the floor while moving the ball well, with 13 assists.
The second half didn’t get any better for Atlanta, McCoughtry scored four quick points and then it was all Washington. The teams would trade baskets fora bit, but Washington was able to push the lead to 28 at one point. They would continue to frustrate Angel and the entire Atlanta team. Tiffany Hayes got called for fouling TRP and Coach Michael Cooper had it! He shared a few words with a referee and was ejected, Tayler Hill would hit a step back jumper a few minutes later to push the lead to 21.
Washington maintained their defensive intensity in the fourth quarter, pushing the lead to 32. Coach Thibault then emptied the bench with five minutes left in the contest. The Mystics finished the game with Ally Malott, Jamie Weisner, Bria Hartley, Tianna Hawkins and Kahleah Copper. It was an impressive start to a five game home stand for the Mystics. When Malott scored, it meant that every player on the Washington side had scored a basket.
An impressive defensive effort from start to finish helps the Mystics get their first home win of the season. They held the East leading Atlanta Dream to just 41.1% shooting from the field and a paltry 22% from the three point line. Washington held their own on the glass 34-32, more importantly they turned it over just 12 times while forcing the Dream into 21 turnovers for the game.