The Washington Mystics got a taste of the offensive chemistry its been searching for during the first half of Sunday’s 78-72 victory over the Atlanta Dream.
Guard Kristi Toliver converted three consecutive three-pointers in the first quarter. Forward Elena Delle Donne was stretching the floor per usual, going 6-6 in the first half. In addition to that, the Mystics went on a 13-2 run, which put them up by 18 in the second quarter and had the Dream on their heels.
However, the Mystics, who had three players out due to injury, started to breakdown on both ends of the court and allowed the Dream to gain some momentum to make a comeback.
“It’s hard playing with eight players,” Mystics Head Coach Mike Thibault said. “We had tired legs shooting the ball down the stretch.”
The Dream took advantage of the weary Mystics and took a one-point lead with less than a minute left in the game.
Just like the Mystics’ 78-76 victory over the Connecticut Sun on Wednesday, Delle-Donne came through down the stretch to lead her team past the Dream.
“It’s nice to have one of the best players in the league on your team,” Thibault said.
Delle-Donne finished with her second straight double-double, 23 points and a career-high 15 rebounds. She nailed three clutch free throws, and used her long arms to make big plays on the defensive end during the closing seconds of the game.
“I just do things I can control,” Delle-Donne said. “Trying to play really good defense, being helpful for my teammates, rebound and stay aggressive.”
Toliver finished with 15 points-12 in the first half-and Tianna Hawkins added 13 points of the bench. Tierra Ruffin-Pratt chipped in 11 points and seven rebounds.
Mystics’ rookie Shatori Walker-Kimbrough made her first career start and she had a tough task dealing with Dream’s guard Tiffany Hayes, who finished with 24 points.
“She [Kimbrough] was in a tough spot,” Thibault said. “We put her in the game to guard one of the best offensive players in the league in Hayes, and I thought she did a really good job in the first half.”
The Mystics’ goal heading into the game was to limit Hayes free throw attempts. They did it in the first half, limiting Hayes to two free-throw attempts. It was a different story in the second half as Hayes went to the line seven times.
“We let Tiffany Hayes get going and one of our goals was to keep her off the free throw line,” Thibault said. “We did a responsible job for a good part of the game, but we had some breakdowns where she kept attacking us.”
The Mystics, who are on a five game winning streak, will hit the road to face the Dallas Wings on Tuesday.