(Natasha Cloud photo courtesy Washington Mystics official Twitter account)
The Washington Mystics have 20 minutes to protect a 15-point lead Monday night when they make a stopover in Las Vegas to complete their suspended game against the Aces.
The July 5 meeting – tipped as a potential WNBA Finals preview – was suspended at halftime when a magnitude 6.9 earthquake in Los Angeles was felt at Mandalay Bay. Because of the logistical issues of finding a common date for the teams to play, the second half will be played at T-Mobile Arena.
Washington (14-7) led 51-36 at halftime as LaToya Sanders scored 14 points on 6-of-7 shooting. The Mystics shot 58.8 percent in the first two quarters, something coach Mike Thibault hopes continues when play resumes.
“It’s a 20-minute game and we need to play it like it’s 0-0. I think that’s the approach we should take,” Thibault told The Associated Press when the makeup date was announced.
The Mystics will try to shake off a blistering shooting performance by the Phoenix Mercury, who shot 58.2 percent overall and hit 12 of 24 from 3-point range in Sunday’s 103-82 romp. Elena Delle Donne and Emma Meesseman scored 18 points apiece for Washington while hitting 15 of 24 shots combined, but the rest of the team was a combined 17 for 50 as Washington failed to recover from a 14-2 second-quarter spurt by Phoenix that created a 19-point deficit.
The short-handed Aces (15-7) held off the Dallas Wings 75-70 on the road Saturday night for their fourth win in five games. Playing without All-Stars Liz Cambage and A’ja Wilson, Kayla McBride hit four 3-pointers and scored 21 points while Jackie Young added 17 for Las Vegas, which offset its 40 percent shooting by outscoring Dallas 20-6 at the foul line.
Cambage will try to pick up where she left off in the first half against the Mystics after scoring 12 points. Wilson, though, continues to be sidelined with a sprained ankle, which means Dearica Hamby will again claim the majority of her minutes. Hamby had her first off game Saturday since taking Wilson’s spot, finishing with six points and seven boards in 36 minutes.
Hamby has averaged 14.6 points and 9.0 rebounds in five games as a starter.
Aces coach Bill Laimbeer admitted his team “may do a few things differently,” given it is trying to erase a 15-point deficit, but he also said he would try to treat it as a normal game.
Delle Donne had 29 points and 11 rebounds as the Mystics stormed to a 95-72 victory in Las Vegas on June 20, hitting 4 of 8 from beyond the arc as Washington sank 10 3-pointers and shot 52.9 percent. Wilson had 28 points on 11-of-14 shooting for the Aces, but her teammates were a combined 16 for 55 (29.1 percent).