The Mystics defeated the Mercury 103-95 on Wednesday night in a game that wasn’t as close as the final score indicated. To be honest, Washington controlled this game quite convincingly.
For the Mystics, Kristi Toliver scored 30 points in the win, while rookie guard Ariel Atkins added 21 more. For the Mercury, Brittney Griner scored 27 points and DeWanna Bonner added 25 more, but no one else scored in double figures besides Briann January, who had 11 points. Diana Taurasi only scored 9 points and was mostly a non-factor in the loss.
The key to this game was the third quarter when when Washington blew the game wide open after only tying Phoenix in the first quarter and leading 49-43 at the half. The Mystics managed to lead by as many as 22 points in the second half, but Phoenix managed to cut the deficit when the outcome was all but decided.
Kristi Toliver answers the bell after a poor season in 2017 - Toliver was expected to be an efficient shooter in 2017 when she first came to Washington but she only shot 32 percent from three that season. So far in 2017. Toliver is making 45 percent of her threes and 14 shots overall out of 31 attempts. With Emma Meesseman, Tayler Hill, and Delle Donne all out this game for different reasons, it was refreshing to see Toliver play in vintage form, draining three after three en route to her 30 point performance earlier tonight.
Mike Thibault is not afraid to make a change when he has to - After four straight poor first quarter performances and a loss to the Storm last Tuesday, Mike Thibault tweaked the starting lineup by starting rookie guard Ariel Atkins over Monique Currie. Meanwhile, Tianna Hawkins started in place of Elena Delle Donne, who is still out due to a stomach virus. Hawkins and Atkins are two of the best reserves so far for the Mystics this season, and they didn’t disappoint. Washington was tied 26-all with Phoenix after the first quarter, which is better than past performances, if not perfect.
Ariel Atkins is the real deal -.Atkins shot 7 of 12 from the field and made three of five three pointers. She now averages 11 points a game while shooting over 40 percent from the field overall and from the three point line. These numbers are better than past Mystics guards who were drafted in the first round like Hill (2013) and Bria Hartley (2014). Atkins is looking like a steal in this draft.
Tierra Ruffin-Pratt is developing her three point shot - TRP hardly shot a three in 2017, but she made two of three three pointers in Wednesday’s contest and shot 5 of 10 from the field. She is still a bit inconsistent shooting the ball, but there is good reason to believe that Ruffin-Pratt is coming around on her shot.
The Mystics play the Las Vegas Aces on the road on Friday, June 1 at 10:30 p.m. EST. It’s their third consecutive late night game!