Getting a second chance at a sixth consecutive victory due to a unique set of circumstances, the Washington Mystics look to wrap up a perfect road swing Sunday when they face the Los Angeles Sparks.
The Mystics (9-3) currently own the best record in the WNBA and have been the league’s hottest team at the moment. Their initial bid for a sixth consecutive victory began in promising fashion Friday night in Las Vegas, where they led the Aces 51-36 at halftime.
But an earthquake measuring 6.9 on the Richter scale centered between Los Angeles and Las Vegas could be felt where they were playing, resulting in a suspension of the game and a resumption date yet to be determined since both Washington and Las Vegas had regularly scheduled games Sunday.
In the 20 minutes played, though, it was again evident the Mystics created all sorts of matchup problems for the Aces. LaToya Sanders scored 14 points on 6-of-7 shooting while Elena Delle Donne and Kristi Tolliver added eight apiece as Washington shot 58.8 percent in the first half.
“I was disappointed they didn’t show up again for a big game,” Aces coach Bill Laimbeer told the Las Vegas Review-Journal, most upset about his team falling behind 30-18 after a quarter. “We never had energy to begin with. … The way we performed in a first quarter, it was embarrassing.”
The Mystics continue to set the standards offensively in the WNBA, entering this contest averaging league highs of 86.8 points and 8.9 3-pointers. Washington is also second in scoring defense at 73.2 points per game allowed and fourth in defensive field goal percentage (41.6).
Mike Thibault’s team has held opponents to 66.0 points per game during its winning streak.
Los Angeles (6-6) has followed up a four-game losing streak with back-to-back wins and put together its most complete effort of the season last Sunday in pounding Chicago 94-69 at home. Riquna Williams scored 19 points to lead five players in double figures for the Sparks, who outscored the Sky 47-29 in the middle quarters and improved to 2-3 since Candace Parker returned after missing the first seven games with a hamstring injury.
“Riquna’s addition takes some pressure off of Chelsea and Candace on the offensive end because of how dynamic she is,” Sparks coach Derek Fisher told the Los Angeles Times. “Defensively … she has the ability to be an irritant and someone that other guards don’t like playing against. She’s physical. … I think her addition really helps our starters.”
Parker has settled into the offense after a rough start, averaging 14.0 points, 8.7 rebounds, and 3.0 assists in her last three games. She made her season debut in the first meeting between the teams on June 15, an 81-52 pummeling by the Mystics in which Parker finished 1 for 9 from the field.
Ariel Atkins scored 22 points to pace Washington in that win, which served as the springboard for its current run. Delle Donne contributed nine points and 15 rebounds as Washington shot 13 of 28 from 3-point range and forced the Sparks into 26 turnovers.
(Nneka Ogwumike photo courtesy Los Angeles Sparks official Twitter account)