Connecticut tops short-handed Washington in season opener, 84-69
Connecticut Sun earns win in season opener against Washington Mystics
The Connecticut Sun entered the WNBA regular season on a high note defeating the short-handed Washington Mystics 84-69 Saturday evening in front of 7,913 fans at Mohegan Sun Arena.
“Great start for us, that’s one of the favorites [Mystics] this season,” Sun head coach Curt Miller said. “They have so many great weapons. They had us on our heels in transition, all night to their credit. It gives us a desire to really play in transition when they had us on our heels. They are one of the best shooting teams in the league and they missed some open shots tonight. We know when we play them again soon, it could quickly be a different story.”
Veteran forward Alyssa Thomas led a trio of Sun starters in double figures with 23 points plus eight rebounds and four assists. Guard Jasmine Thomas added 13 points plus six assists while Jonquel Jones had the game’s only double-double with 10 points and 14 rebounds plus three blocks. Eleven of Jones’ rebounds came from the defensive glass. Overall, the Sun outrebounded the Mystics 40-37.
The Sun’s rookies, forward Kristine Anigwe and guard/forward Bridget Carleton did not see any action in the game.
Washington had four players in double figures with Belgian forward Emma Meesseman leading the way with 14 points and six rebounds. Guards Kristi Toliver and Shatori Walker-Kimbrough scored 11 points each. Walker-Kimbrough also pulled down eight rebounds. Second-year guard Ariel Atkins was also in double figures with 10 points.
Toliver suffered an injury during the game appearing to twist her knee late in the first quarter. She continued playing until halfway through the third period and left the game limping. She sat out the fourth quarter.
The Mystics played without the services of three players, forwards Elena Delle Donne (left knee soreness) and Aerial Powers (left gluteal muscle) as well as rookie guard Kiara Leslie (rehab from right knee surgery). Washington’s other rookie, guard Kim Mestdagh, played four minutes and scored three points.
Mystics head coach Mike Thibault was optimistic about his team’s future in the face of the injuries.
“It’s hard, but everybody goes through it,” Thibault said. “Luckily for us and hopefully it only lasts a short amount of time at the start of the year and we get better as we go. It’s ugly to watch and when Kristi got hurt, I’m a little concerned about it. We will see when she gets home and sees the docs.”
Connecticut continues its homestand hosting the Indiana Fever on Tuesday, May 28. Washington heads home to face the Atlanta Dream on Saturday, June 1.