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Three takeaways from the Mystics’ character win over the Dream

The Mystics won in overtime against the Dream on Wednesday, 100-96. After falling behind by as many as 21 points in the first half, we saw Kristi Toliver take over the game by scoring 13 of her season high 29 points in the second quarter.

Once halftime concluded, Emma Meesseman scored 16 of her 18 points in the second half and overtime where she also added five assists and three blocks. Ivory Latta then chipped in with 12 more points and made all three of her three pointers. In short, this was a character win for the Mystics’ 2017 campaign and you can see highlights above.

After watching the game yesterday and letting it sink in, here are three things that you can take away from it.

Meesseman and Toliver show they are a dynamic duo of their own

Familiarity often breeds success when two or more players spend time on other successful teams. As teammates for the Russian superpower, Meesseman and Toliver have experienced success and had to take over games together when other stars like Diana Taurasi and Brittney Griner weren’t around.

Yesterday, the Mystics’ top two scorers, Elena Delle Donne and Tayler Hill were both out, and they’ve been reliable scoring options throughout the course of the summer. Toliver hasn’t been as consistent as Delle Donne or Hill. And Meesseman hasn’t been in a groove in Monumental Red.

This game was the first when we saw both of them hit their stride together on this side of the Ural Mountains. If Delle Donne is out for a much longer period of time, we’ll need to see them continue to put up performances like we did Wednesday. AFTER the first quarter of course!

The kids’ rowdiness kept the Mystics in it

The downside of Wednesday’s game is that most people with a 9-5 job don’t have the time to go to Verizon Center for an extended lunch break and watch the game. But the game was also a chance for children in summer camps to see the Mystics in action.

Most of the 15,597 in attendance yesterday were campers. And they were loud. In fact, Dan Steinberg of The Washington Post characterized the game as “louder than 95 percent of Wizards games.”

The Mystics are scheduled to move to the St. Elizabeth’s site in the next couple of seasons and play in a smaller, 5.000-ish seat arena that would be the smallest in the WNBA. Though some fans are not happy with the move, Mystics owner Ted Leonsis and Head Coach Mike Thibault disagree because of the advantage a loud arena has. From Steinberg’s piece:

“It’s hard to respect the WNBA in a 20,000-seat arena, because we’ll never sell 20,000 seats,” Leonsis said. “But getting 5,000 people into a 5,000-seat arena will make it successful.”

“Some of the fans think we just don’t want to play in a big-time place, that we want this small, minor-league product,” Coach Mike Thibault said. “Our players and I are saying, ‘No, we want to play where we have a home-court advantage.’ I’d rather have a smaller building and have a sold-out building every night, have a home-court advantage every night.”

After the first quarter, the Mystics shot just 23.8 percent from the field. It was basically a repeat of their performance against the Liberty last Sunday when they shot 27.7 percent for the game — their first without their two leading scorers, Elena Delle Donne and Tayler Hill.

If this game happened in the evening, don’t be surprised to see this game turn into a blowout in favor of Atlanta. Thankfully, that didn’t happen.

This win may be a pivotal moment in the 2017 season

There are certain points in the season that you could point to with hindsight and say, “That time changed the team for the better or worse.” Wednesday’s win certainly looks like it’s one of those pivotal moments for the better.

Washington’s win yesterday, brought them to a 12-9 record, tied with the Connecticut Sun for third best in the WNBA. If the season ended today, they will get a first round bye and host the second round winner-take-all game in the playoffs. With a loss, the Dream would be 10-10 while the Mystics fall to 11-10 on the season, when they would fall to 6th place.

No one would fault the Mystics for slumping a bit in the standings and limping into the postseason due to their recent injury woes. However, they persevered after a rough first half to kick off the All-Star Break in position to clinch a bye in the playoffs. That’s all we can ask for at this point in the season.