The Washington Mystics 78-76 victory over the Connecticut Sun on Wednesday afternoon was a true definition of an ugly win.
The Mystics missed their first 10 shots, while allowing the Sun to go on a 10-0 run during the opening minutes of the first quarter. They shot 25 percent in the first quarter and ended with a dreadful 29.4 percent at halftime.
Forward Elena Delle-Donne wasn’t at the top of her game offensively as she went 3-15 from the floor. Tierra Ruffin-Pratt went 4-13, and point guard Ivory Latta shot 1-6 off the bench.
“Not the prettiest game,” Mystics’ head coach Mike Thibault said. “But when you shoot 35 percent and still win, I guess there is beauty in that.”
Despite the team’s shooting woes, the Mystics still found a way to stay in the game and squeeze out their fourth win of the season. Guard Tayler Hill finished with a team-high 18 points and dished out eights assists. Her play in the second half helped the Mystics make a strong run.
Delle-Donne was able to record a double-double, 13 points and 12 rebounds despite shooting the ball poorly. Delle-Donne came up big down the stretch when she converted a tough and-1 with 45 seconds left in the game to put the Mystics up 78-75.
“She [Delle-Donne] has the composure to make plays when the game is on the line,” Thibault said. “She rebounded the ball, she had five block shots, and that makes up for some of the bad shooting.”
Thibault believed it took the Mystics to do more than shoot the ball to be competitive throughout the afternoon.
“The things we have been trying to emphasize won us the game,” Thibault said. “We shot 29 free throws and only had eight turnovers.”
The Mystics went 26-29 from the line and forced the Sun to get into foul trouble late in the game. Delle-Donne went 7-7 from the line, while Hill went 7-8.
“When we put this team together, one of the things was to make sure that our best players were good free throw shooters and had the ability to get to the free throw line,” Thibault said. “It helps that your two leading scorers can shoot 14 free throws between them.”
The Sun didn’t have Morgan Tuck in the lineup as she was dealing with a knee contusion. However, they saw Jonquel Jones, who finished with 14 points and 13 rebounds, and forward Shekinna Stricklen, who scored 20 points and buried six three-pointers, step up to the plate.
The Sun struggled from the free throw line especially in the final seconds of the fourth quarter when Alex Bentley missed 2-3 free throws, which would had tied the game.
“A lot of mistakes at the end, but I guess we made up for it in the end when some karma allowed Bentley to miss one,” Thibault said.