In a rematch of last year’s WNBA finals, the Washington Mystics defeated the Connecticut Sun 94–89. Led by fifth-year pro Aerial Powers, who put up a team-high 27 points, hitting several big shots from beyond the arc late in the game, the Mystics improved to 2–0. Powers displayed her full skillset tonight, illustrating her ability to get to the line, exhibiting her strength on defense and demonstrating her visionary passing talent.
️ GET A BUCKET (plus 1) AP!! pic.twitter.com/wIYjWtd46a— Washington Mystics (@WashMystics) July 28, 2020
Out of the ten players that started last year’s finals game five, only three started tonight’s matchup (Ariel Atkins for the Mystics and Alyssa Thomas and Jasmine Thomas for the Sun). Despite a myriad of fresh faces, this game had all of the suspense and intrigue as last year’s series.
The Mystics looked formidable early, with Powers getting a tough and-one call. The early moments of the game were also headlined by several gritty hustle plays that led to steals by Myisha Hines-Allen, Emma Meesseman and Powers. Washington led 26–20 after one, but a clumsy second quarter highlighted by the Mystics finishing the half with 13 fouls and nine turnovers saw D.C. down 48–52 at halftime.
Mystics’ Head Coach and General Manager Mike Thibault clearly galvanized his team at the break. Powers hit a long three then set up Hines-Allen for another trey to push the score to 59-56, forcing the Sun to take an early timeout. The Sun would then counter, as both teams traded blows throughout the third and with one quarter remaining, Washington led 76–71.
A strong start to the fourth saw the Mystics lead by as much as 15, but the Sun battled back thanks to contributions from DeWanna Bonner (29 points, nine rebounds, shooting 50-percent from three) and Alyssa Thomas (28 points and 11 rebounds). Connecticut Head Coach Curt Miller leaned heavily on his two superstars, as Bonner played every minute of the game, while Thomas played 38-minutes.
After seeing their 15-point lead evaporate late in the fourth, the Mystics leaned on stout defending as well as a little bit of luck. Alyssa Thomas missed a layup in the final 30 seconds, which would have tied the game. Connecticut was then slow to foul Leilani Mitchell, who went 1–2 from the free-throw line to put the Mystics up three, a margin from which the Sun would not recover.
While the Mystics got the win, Thibault will lament the mistakes made in this affair. His team finished with 28 fouls (nine more than they had against Indiana) and 15 turnovers (two more than their first game). Regarding the teams’ shooting splits, they experienced an overall regression from game one. The Mystics shot 48.6-percent from two (compared to 55.9-percent against the Fever), 36-percent from three (compared to 41.2-percent) and 81-percent from the free-throw line (compared to 90-percent).
Despite some sloppy moments throughout the game, the Mystics had four players with double-digit scoring: Atkins (16 points), Hines-Allen (16), Meesseman (12) and Powers (27). In a competitive game, this victory was the perfect gift for Essence Carson, who celebrated her 34th birthday today.
The Mystics’ next game is on Thursday July 30th at 6 p.m. ET against the Seattle Storm and will be televised on ESPN.