The Mystics entered Sunday’s game having lost their last two, and three of their last four games. Despite Washington’s big offseason acquisitions, the Minnesota Lynx made it clear on Friday night that there is still a long way to go.
But if you can’t beat the best team in the league, at least you can blow out one of the worst ones. After a tight first quarter where both teams shot lights out, the Mystics went on an extraordinary 16-0 run to take control of the game. They weathered Chicago’s third-quarter push and ultimately won the game 97-63 in Mike Thibault’s return to the bench. He missed Friday’s game due to bereavement leave.
Tayler Hill led the Mystics with 17 points. Natasha Cloud had 6 assists in just 21 minutes of play. Krystal Thomas chipped in 12 rebounds.
Allie Quigley led the Sky with 18 points.
A big game for the backcourt
Though there was plenty of scoring to go around for everybody, Hill and Kristi Toliver each set the intensity level for the Mystics’ on offense. Toliver started the party by scoring the first two field goals for the Mystics, and as Chicago began to key in defensively on her Hill stepped in to fill the void. Hill finished the night with 17 points and Toliver finished up with 16 (plus two assists). They shot a combined 6-12 from three and turned the ball over just twice. Accounting for both Toliver and Hill in the backcourt with Elena Delle Donne (and soon Emma Meesseman) in the frontcourt is something that almost no team in the league is equipped to do.
Delle Donne fills up the boxscore
Delle Donne found herself somewhat marginalized in the offense tonight, scoring just 11 points on 11 shots. She had some success going one-on-one against Tamera Young in the post, but for the most part seemed content to play decoy. She made her presence felt with more than just floor gravity, however, with six rebounds, four assists, three blocks and three steals.
Thibault goes nine deep in the first quarter
The Mystics are missing their second-best player, and coach Mike Thibault still felt comfortable giving meaningful minutes to ten players early in the game. Perhaps unhappy with the team’s unfocused defense and sloppy passing into the stands, Asia Taylor came in late in the first quarter and made her first two shots, helping spur the Mystics takeover run.
It’s not unusual for Thibault to utilize this much of his roster, but it is remarkable. Ivory Latta is essentially a starter coming off the bench, and it’s hard not to imagine that both Natasha Cloud and Tianna Hawkins could grow more in bigger roles. Shatori Walker-Kimbrough, this year’s first round pick, couldn’t get on the floor until the last few minutes of garbage time. All of this depth is a luxury as long as everyone is happy. Winning, hopefully, will keep everyone happy.
The Mystics return Tuesday night against the Seattle Storm on NBATV.