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Keys to the Palace: Despite injuries, the Mystics’ starters step up to the challenge

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Stewart W. Small

The Mystics lost to the Stars, 76-74 last Friday but defeated the Mercury 85-80 on Sunday. Before we get harsh on Washington for losing to the league’s worst team last Friday, let’s also consider that they are suffering some major injury woes. Tayler Hill is out for the season. Elena Delle Donne is out for at least another two weeks. And Natasha Cloud was sidelined last weekend. Therefore, we saw some reserves receive playing time that they otherwise wouldn’t get.

When it’s all said and done, the Mystics are 15-10. Of their remaining nine games, the Mystics will play six of them at home, so there’s a good chance they’ll get their fist 20-win season since 2010. And though it’s a stretch, the Mystics could match or even surpass the 22-12 mark the 2010 team did!

Now that that’s all said, let’s get to some Keys:

Keys to the Palace

Emma Meesseman

Messeman only scored 15 points each in both games. I wish she would have had the ball a bit more in the win against Phoenix, but she did grab a critical rebound to seal the win when Krystal Thomas couldn’t buy a free throw

Krystal Thomas

Thomas didn’t make a single shot last weekend. She shot 6 of 16 from the free throw line. But she still gets a Key for being the Dennis Rodman of the WNBA. Thomas grabbed an average of 18 rebounds a game last weekend, has grabbed 10 or more rebounds in each of the Mystics’ last six games, and has grabbed five or more offensive rebounds in each of the last five games.

Thomas’ job isn’t to be a 20 point scorer, or even a 10 point scorer. She’s there to clean up the boards and get some leftover baskets. Though the baskets weren’t there last weekend, her rebounding perfromance alone gets her a key!

Kristi Toliver

Toliver has been on a scoring tear lately. She made 7 of 15 three pointers last weekend. Her play against the Mercury is ultimately what sealed their win.

Tierra Ruffin-Pratt

TRP shot 15 of 27 in each of the Mystics’ last two games. She even got going early in both the Stars and Mercury contests. I’d prefer not to see her take a “game on the line shot” like she did last Friday against San Antonio. But when she’s on a hot streak, I’ll take it!

Guest Passes

Shatori Walker-Kimbrough

SWK made 3 of 6 three pointers in her first two career starts and games where she’s been on the court for a significant amount of time. With the backcourt as thin as it is, she’ll need to continue being steady until Natasha Cloud and Elena Delle Donne return.

Tianna Hawkins

Hawkins’ best performance was a 10 point, 8 rebound performance against the Mercury on Sunday. However, her performance against the Stars left a lot of room for improvement.

Ivory Latta

Latta didn’t have a burst of three point efficiency last weekend, but she was a steady backup point guard with Natasha Cloud out of commission.

Allison Hightower

Hightower scored 6 points in Sunday’s win over the Mercury and added three assists. She has made her mark on the roster in her short time in D.C. so far.

Lockout

Asia Taylor

Taylor’s biggest spurt of playing time was against the Mercury, and it was not good. She caused a number of turnovers or other plays to keep Phoenix in striking distance.

No Evaluations

Get well soon Tayler Hill, Natasha Cloud, and Elena Delle Donne. Haley Peters was signed to the Mystics on Sunday, but she didn’t see any playing time.