Elena Delle Donne leads Washington past Atlanta 87-84 in game 1 of semifinals series, ties franchise playoff record
ATLANTA – In the first game of the day in Sunday’s WNBA semifinals, No. 3 seed Washington took down No. 2 Atlanta Dream 87-84 in Atlanta on the campus of Georgia Tech in front of 5,086 fans. Led by star forward Elena Delle Donne, the Mystics never trailed in the first of the best-of-five series.
The teams had an even first quarter as both went into the second period with 26 points each. However, the Mystics pulled ahead in the next ten minutes outscoring the Dream 25-16 to go into the break with a 51-42 lead. Atlanta shot just 29.4 percent from the floor in the second period compared to 40 percent by Washington.
Delle Donne led all scorers at the half with 15 points. For the Dream, Alex Bentley came off the bench for 12 first-half points.
The Dream had a more productive third period, shooting 56.2 percent and outscoring the Mystics 24-19. Early in the fourth quarter, Atlanta managed to get within two points after a driving layup from Bentley. Delle Donne responded with a driving layup of her own to begin an 11-2 run that culminated in a ten-point lead for Washington. Atlanta fought back to get within three with 58.9 seconds left in the contest, but they failed to score for the rest of the game.
Delle Donne finished with a game-high 32 points plus 13 rebounds, tying the franchise playoff record for single-game points set by teammate Kristi Toliver last season. She also set a new record for free throws made by a Mystics player in a playoff game at 10.
”My teammates have trust in me in those situations to attack and try to make the right read,” Delle Donne said postgame. “I was flowing today, so we kind of just ran the offense through me and I just kind of had to make reads and attack. If someone else is flowing, we run it through them, and that’s just kind of how our team is, super unselfish, and it’s why we’re successful.”
Washington rookie guard Ariel Atkins added 15 points. Guard Natasha Cloud filled with her stat line with 13 points, five rebounds and six assists. Forward Tianna Hawkins contributed 11 points plus four rebounds.
“It was an ugly game, but we came out with a win,” Cloud said.
Bentley paced Atlanta with 19 points. Tiffany Hayes added 17 points plus four rebounds. Center Elizabeth Williams pitched in with a double-double of 15 points plus 14 rebounds. Brittney Sykes was also in double figures with 10 points.
This best-of-five series continues Tuesday, August 28 at Georgia Tech’s McCamish Pavilion at 8 p.m. ET.
On the West Coast, the Seattle Storm beat the Phoenix Mercury 91-87 in the other semifinal series.
- Washington shot 100 percent from the line, going 20-of-20.
- Elena Delle Donne came in third in MVP votes.
- Washington committed just four turnovers compared to Atlanta’s eight.
- Points in the Paint: Mystics 26 (13/29), Dream 42 (21/34)
- 2nd Chance Points: Mystics 10 (5/9), Dream 18 (8/11)
- Fast Break Points: Mystics 4 (2/6), Dream 9 (4/7)
- Officials: #34 Maj Forsberg, #16 Isaac Barnett, #55 Eric Brewton, #19 Tiara Cruse