The Washington Mystics grabbed their first win of the season by beating the Connecticut Sun, 84-76 in overtime on the road. Tayler Hill led the Mystics with 24 points while Bria Hartley added 16 and Emma Meesseman added 14 more. For Connecticut, Alyssa Thomas scored 18 points while three more players scored in double figures.
This was a back and forth game where Washington raced out to an early lead but Connecticut gained most of the momentum and looked poised to win this in regulation. The Mystics had a chance to win the game in regulation with one second left with Stefanie Dolson at the free throw line. However, she missed one of her two free throws, and we headed to extra time soon after.
In overtime, the Mystics got to a quick four point lead and never let go from that point on. The best part about this win was that they played with a sense of urgency, more than they did earlier this season. If they lost tonight, they would be 0-4, and would quickly find themselves in last place in the standings. But fortunately, that didn't happen. So let's get to some takeaways from the game.
Player of the Game: Tayler Hill
Hill scored a career-high 24 points on 6 of 12 shooting. She also dished seven assists and played as the de-facto point guard today, considering that Hartley only dished one assist. I'll talk a little more about them later.
At this point, Hill has secured her starting guard position for the season. It's a shame that there is no All-Star Game this season because Hill would be a shoo-in as a reserve. It's clear that Hill came into this year ready to prove the doubters wrong, and she is definitely on the right track to do so.
Emma Meesseman is still struggling to get into form
The Mystics' best player over the last three seasons has played poorly since she exchanged an orange UMMC jersey for Monumental Red, White, and Blue ones.
The Meesseman we saw in the first half played poorly. She committed three turnovers in the first half and a couple of them were opportunities where she could have either shot a three over a defender or aggressively pursue contact in order to get to the foul line.
Fortunately, Meesseman got out of her funk -- sorta -- in the second half. She scored nine points in the second half and overtime by shooting 3 of 7 from the field. She also looked noticeably more active to get free throw shooting opportunities. Yes, Meesseman played well in each of the two games before tonight, but I expect more out of her than others on this team.
Turnovers, turnovers, turnovers ... again!
The Mystics entered Saturday's game with 21.4 turnovers/100 possessions per game (the fourth-highest in the league). Things weren't much better tonight as they committed 20 overall. Fortunately in the second half and overtime, they committed just seven.
The Hill and Hartley backcourt needs to stay
Like last Saturday when Hill and Hartley scored a combined 37 points in their season opening loss to the Liberty, the two guards once again made a strong case as to why they need to play major minutes together as they scored 40 total points tonight.
Sure, Ivory Latta will come back soon -- perhaps as soon as this Thursday when they play the Seattle Storm on the road. And sure, Natasha Cloud has done a good job as a starter for much of last season season. But Hill and Hartley are the guards who are Mystics' highest draft picks, they are the team's most versatile and athletic guards, and they are developing a good amount of chemistry together.
When Latta and Cloud return, they need to make sure that Hill and Hartley remain together. I think you all know my preference: Hill and Hartley should start, while Latta and Cloud come off the bench. That said, I'll go with this cliché that Wizards color announcer Glenn Consor says quite often: It's not about who starts games, but who finishes them. Hopefully we'll see Hill and Hartley finish more games together as this summer continues.
The Mystics travel to Seattle next Thursday to play Sue Bird, Jewell Loyd, Breanna Stewart and the Storm at 10 p.m. ET.