The Washington Mystics appear to be hitting their stride as they look to remain unbeaten on their road swing Sunday against the Atlanta Dream.
Washington’s losses this season have come to current WNBA leader Connecticut (twice) and defending champion Seattle. The Mystics (6-3) have been impressive in winning the first two legs of their four-game trek and are coming off a 95-72 thrashing of a Las Vegas Aces team many pegged as a potential title contender on Thursday night.
“An experienced basketball team kicked the crap out of an inexperienced basketball team,” Aces coach Bill Laimbeer told the Las Vegas Review-Journal in praising Washington. “They played very well, and we didn’t.”
Elena Delle Donne had 29 points and 11 rebounds as Washington shot 52.9 percent against the WNBA’s best defense in terms of shooting percentage. Ariel Atkins added 19 points as the Mystics jumped out to a 30-19 lead after one quarter and kept Las Vegas at arm’s length by hitting 10 of 20 shots from 3-point range.
Delle Donne ranks eighth in the league in scoring (15.9) and fifth in rebounds (8.9). The Mystics – who opened this road trip with an 81-52 rout of the Los Angeles Sparks on Tuesday night — are averaging a WNBA-best 85.6 points while hitting a league-high 9.1 3-pointers per game.
The offense “is coming along,” Atkins told The Washington Post before the road swing started. “We have a lot of offensive power, and you’ll see it grow throughout the season as we figure out what each other likes, and we figure out how to really attack teams.”
The Mystics continue to be without Emma Meesseman and Kim Mestdagh, who are both representing Belgium at the EuroBasket tournament.
Atlanta (2-6) was thwarted in its bid to win back-to-back games for the first time this year following its 86-76 loss at Connecticut on Friday night. Jessica Breland had 17 points and eight rebounds and Brittney Sykes scored 18 points off the bench for the Dream, who are also missing a key player due to EuroBasket commitments as Alex Bentley plays for Belarus.
They are also without star Angel McCoughtry, who continues to recover from a torn ACL. Her absence has hindered an offense that ranks ahead of only Dallas in scoring (71.3 ppg), overall shooting (38.0) and 3-point shooting (28.8).
Atkins and the Mystics made short work of the Dream earlier this month in the nation’s capital, rolling to a 96-75 victory. She had 21 points and Delle Donne hit her first seven shots en route to an 18-point effort.
This is Washington’s first game in Atlanta since winning Game 5 of the WNBA semifinals 86-81 last September.
(Elena Delle Donne photo courtesy Washington Mystics official Twitter account)