Story By: Erin Zollars
Photos By: Sol Tucker
It looks as if the Washington Mystics are nothing less than on a mission this season, win the title. Their play again today was nothing less than dominate throughout the game with a few punches thrown by the Sun in a 95-86 victory.
So, what was the key difference today for the Mystics that helped them keep the Sun away late in the fourth quarter, defense! They probably played some of their best defense of the season today in the fourth quarter. Keeping the Sun no closer than 6 points in the final 5:00 of the game made all the difference.
“We will win this championship with our defense,” said Mystics Guard Natasha Cloud. “If we continue to stop theier best three players it will tough to compete with our depth deep in games.
With Connecticut’s leading scorer, Jonquel Jones, underperforming and its starting point guard, Jasmine Thomas, off her game offensively, Washington edged just out of reach every time the Sun made a push.
“Obviously, a go-to player down the stretch that they can play through and make some big plays,” Sun Coach-General Manager Curt Miller said of Delle Donne. “Alyssa Thomas is an elite defender, and when she bodies up on 99 percent of the people in the league and they’ve picked up their dribble, she usually gets that stop. We all know that EDD’s step through in that last movement to the basket where she leans in and create space and can get her shot off is — she’s the only person in the world that does that.”
Elena Delle Donne led five Washington scorers in double figures with 22 points, 10 rebounds and five assists that matched a season high. The Mystics had all of their players involved in the scoring and it led to 54 percent shooting from the field and 47.6 percent shooting from beyond the arc.
Ariel Atkins added 21 points, including three three-pointers. Kristi Toliver, playing without the brace on her right knee that had been protecting a healing bone bruise and strained medial collateral ligament, had 18 points and five assists. Cloud had 13 points and seven assists. Emma Meesseman scored 11 off the bench.
Game 2 kicks off Tuesday at 8:00pm