The (10-15) Washington Mystics got the final push of the season going against the (12-13) Indiana Fever in Indy tonight in the first game of a back-to-back, with a statement win.
For the final ten games of the regular season, the Mystics have had a bit of a roster turnover. New teammates LaToya Sanders and Leilani Mitchell have taken over for the pregnant Bria Hartley and (unfortunately) Tianna Hawkins who will miss the rest of the season due to concussion symptoms.
So how did the new team fare?
My immediate reaction: Block Party. Eleven total blocks by the Mystics.
Emma Meesseman had her usual gritty offensive and defensive performance. She played 29 minutes, executing 17 points on 78 percent shooting, 6 rebounds, 3 assists and a blocked shot.
LaToya Sanders brought her well documented defensive acumen. Three blocked shots in FIFTEEN minutes. Six points and two rebounds makes me want to send her a basket of puppies.
Kahleah Copper, the rookie, speaking of puppies, managed a career high of 17 points in 16 minutes, going 6-of-7 from the line. Three rebounds and a blocked shot rounded out her welcomed production.
Tayler Hill started so slow, but in a total of 28 minutes she wrangled 18 points, two rebounds, four assists and a steal. She went 4-for-8 from three and reminded everyone why she might qualify as ‘Most Improved’ this year.
Natasha Cloud had five assists and five points on 3-3 shooting all in the second half, three rebounds AND a blocked shot.
Stef Dolson managed 11 points on 71 percent shooting, in 20 minutes. She grabbed two rebounds and two assists, a steal and two blocked shots. She also knocked down her second 3 pointer of the year, with a well earned fist-pump.
Tierra Ruffin-Pratt had 11 points on 33 percent shooting in 24 minutes, seven rebounds and three steals. Some of her usual shenanigans like poor decision making did not derail her this evening, however.
I believe this is the first time this season that the starters averaged a +/- of PLUS 26.2.
Leilani Mitchell really was not bad considering she literally just joined the team, but three turnovers in 12 minutes is not ideal.
The Mystics are 10 and 15, tied for the eighth playoff spot, currently with Seattle, who also had a nice signature win over the association leading Sparks last night, albeit only by seven, 79-72.
As much as I would love to get super pumped about this win, I am suspicious. I think anyone would be looking at all of the addition by subtraction with the roster. Coach Thibault played a kind of substitution roulette, and it worked. Particularly when the backcourt got their shooting together in the second half.
Regardless, a terrific win to snap a nose-dive out of the playoffs for the Mystics. Game two of a back-to-back against San Antonio tomorrow night is another must-win game.