The Mystics finally have a signature win to go along with their winning start! They defeated the Lynx, 90-78 on Sunday afternoon and now have a WNBA-leading 4-0 record.
Though the Mystics got their first double-digit win of the season. this game also started a lot like each of the last two games. Washington fell behind to Minnesota early, losing 20-6 at one point in the first quarter. At that point, many were about to write this game off.
But once the bench unit came in, Shatori Walker-Kimbrough set the tone by scoring seven straight points to start off Washington’s run, Myisha Hines-Allen came up with hustle play after hustle play, and Ariel Atkins also made four three pointers at the right times to get Washington back in the game in the second quarter.
Minnesota inevitably came back in the third quarter and were leading to start the fourth quarter. But the Mystics held the Lynx to just 10 fourth quarter points while scoring 24 themselves when Kristi Toliver made two consecutive three pointers to regain the lead.
Toliver finished with 19 points to lead the Mystics’ scorers.
From there, Washington never looked back after Atkins made a three with just 2:15 left to put Washington up with an 83-73 lead.
What’s even more surprising about this game was that Elena Delle Donne was limited in this game. She only scored four points and played in the first half. She missed the second due to a stomach bug, so perhaps that explained her 2 of 7 shooting performance.
Besides that and the slow start, this is Washington’s first signature win of the 2018 season. Teams can’t control the actual regular season schedule, but the Mystics finally had a chance to show what they could do against a top tier WNBA team and proved it on the court. Here are the takeaways from Sunday’s win.
The Mystics are 4-0 for the first time in franchise history
The Mystics have had more than their fair share of bad seasons throughout franchise history. But since Mike Thibault took over as General Manager and Head Coach in 2013, the culture has turned around since they made four playoff apperances in five years and a semifinals berth just last season.
Now, they won four straight games to start the 2018 season. The Mystics were already leading the WNBA standings after Thursday’s win over the Fever. But after today’s big win over Minnesota, Washington now has a signature win to go along with their lighter schedule thus far. Expect the WNBA power rankings to give the Mystics a nice boost tomorrow.
Myisha Hines-Allen was a defensive nuisance for Sylvia Fowles
The rookie forward scored 15 points and grabbed 13 rebounds in the win while shooting 7 of 8 from the field. Hines-Allen, who played 25 minutes, was matched up against Minnesota center Sylvia Fowles for much of the contest. Fowles scored 17 points and shot a perfect 8 of 8 from the floor.
But the 2017 WNBA MVP made her first six field goals and scored 13 points in the first quarter when Hines-Allen only saw 18 seconds of playing time. Hines-Allen’s defensive performance was nothing short of exceptional.
The Mystics’ young bench unit plays without fear
The three players who sparked Washington’s run were sophomore guard Shatori Walker-Kimbrough and the rookie duo of Atkins and Hines-Allen. Typically, rookies and sophomores play a bit tentatively. Today, neither of these three feared Minnesota when they were on the floor. They simply outplayed and out-hustled the Lynx.
The slow starts are still a concern
The Mystics’ starting unit of Toliver, Tierra Ruffin-Pratt, Monique Currie, Elena Delle Donne, and Krystal Thomas needs to be tweaked. The young bench is an asset, but the starting unit is a liability. Sure, Delle Donne had a stomach bug today, but the Mystics were not leading after the first quarter in three straight games. If the bench continues to outperform the starters like they did against Minnesota today, expect Atkins or Hines-Allen to get a starting spot in the lineup in the near future.
The Mystics will go on the road to face the Seattle Storm on Tuesday, May 29. You can watch the game at 10 p.m. EST on Twitter.