50-40-90: Elena Delle Donne enters the record books again as Washington bests Chicago 100-86 in regular season finale
Elena Delle Donne becomes the first WNBA player to enter the 50-40-90 club
WASHINGTON D.C. – The Washington Mystics (28-6) closed their regular season with a 100-86 win over the Chicago Sky (20-14) in Entertainment and Sports Arena (ESA) Sunday afternoon.
The franchise experienced their best-ever regular season, a feat orchestrated under head coach Mike Thibault. They capped the milestone by sipping champagne in the locker room postgame.
“This is the best chemistry team from top to bottom…,” Thibault said during Thursday practice. “It feels like chemistry is sensational on this team, they like each other, they pull for each other but they’re not so sensitive they can’t take criticism.”
Washington’s decorated 2019 season includes being one of the highest scoring offenses the WNBA has ever seen. They set a league record for most made threes in regulation at 18 in an August 18th contest against the Indiana Fever. They average 1.1 points per possession, taking a minimum of three passes per possession against Chicago Sunday afternoon. They reached the century mark in scoring for the sixth time, a record-high for the franchise.
Accolades also include forward Elena Delle Donne’s initiation into one of basketball’s most elite and efficient societies: the 50-40-90 club, shooting 51.5% from the field, 43.0% from the three-point line, and 97.4% from the free throw line over the season. She is the first WNBA player to reach the milestone.
She strengthened her case Sunday, shooting 6-of-7 from the floor for 14 first-quarter points. Washington pieced together a pair of 28-point quarters on 51 percent shooting, leading Chicago 56-39 at halftime. The Sky eventually gained momentum in the third quarter to outscore the Mystics 24-18 and getting to the free throw line nine times.
“We had a bad stretch during that third and fourth quarter but other than that we did some good stuff.” Thibault said.
Washington finishes 14–3 at home in the regular season on a ten-game winning streak, winning 16 of their last 18 matchups. ESA evolved into an electric gauntlet against opponents. Housing 4,200 fans, it gets packed pretty quickly for a loud, raucous environment.
The road to the WNBA Finals runs through ESA. Washington will be back in action September 17th during the semifinal round of the playoffs after escaping single elimination games in the first two rounds with a hard-earned double bye. Guard Aerial Powers thanked and encouraged fans for the postseason attendance prior to the national anthem and starting lineup announcement.
“We all appreciate you guys coming out every single home game,” Powers said at center court. “We want to keep this run going, so come out and support us for the playoffs.”
Three players landed in double figures for Washington. Delle Donne recorded the game-high of 25 points and 12 rebounds for her ninth double-double of the season. She also reached 300 career blocks, swatting three of Chicago’s attempts that afternoon. MVP chants for Delle Donne were the loudest from fans after the contest.
“It’s something that gives you chills,” Delle Donne said. “I absolutely love this city and there’s where else in this world I would rather be. For them to have my back like that means a lot. It was a special moment.”
Guard Tianna Hawkins returned after missing two games, scoring 24 points and grabbing nine rebounds.
“It’s a nice way to finish the season,” Thibault said. “We played well against a good team, able to rest some people who needed to rest and play a little bit today because we have a lot of time off.”
The Sky (20-13), one of just five teams to beat the Mystics this season, looked to win the season series in the finale. Washington set their eyes to avenge their 85-78 loss at the Sky August 23. Four Chicago players finished in double figures. Forward Diamond DeShields scored 12 fourth quarter points, finishing with 16. Guard Allie Quigley collected 13 points and grabbed four rebounds on the night. During the loss, Chicago’s forward Astou Ndour was ejected for touching referee Kevin Fahy as she tried to get his attention with 3:02 remaining in the second quarter. She recorded ten points and grabbed two rebounds prior to ejection.
“She’s a sweetheart. If you know her, you’ll know that she didn’t mean any ill-will,” Chicago head coach James Wade said of the Senegalese forward. “I think one of the issues is, it’s good to know when you have a player that doesn’t really speak English and wants to get your attention. Sometimes the next thing is going to be touching. I think he was walking in her path and she just touched him and said ‘hey look.’”
“I’m really excited,” second-year player DeShields said. “Not too many people get to hang around the league long enough to go to the playoffs. The lifespan of a career in this league can be brutally short. I’m happy to get it in year two and hopefully, we can make a push.”
- Points in the Paint: Sky 42, Mystics 36
- Second Chance Points: Sky 7, Mystics 18
- Fastbreak Points: Sky 12, Mystics 0
- Biggest Lead: Sky 3, Mystics 26
- Lead Changes: 1
- Times Tied: 0
- Attendance: 4,200 (Sellout)
- Washington outrebounded Chicago, 42-29, and improve to 16-0 this season when having more total rebounds than their opponent.
- The Mystics led the Sky, 56-39, at halftime. Washington’s 56 first-half points fell two short of the team’s season-high for points in a first half.
- Washington guard Natasha Cloud recorded a team-high six assists. Cloud has led the Mystics in assists in 21 games this season and has registered 5+ assists in 25.
- Washington’s team records this season include: 14 home wins, 12 road wins and an average of 89.2 points per game.
- The Mystics closed the season on a 10-game home winning streak and six-game winning streak overall. The team won 17 of its final 19 games dating back to July 19.
- Washington scored 100+ points for the sixth time this season, topping the previous franchise record of five set in 2017. The Mystics have won 19 games by 10+ points this season.
- The Mystics recorded 42 total rebounds, which tied their season-high set against New York on September 3. Washington also shot 13-13 (1.000) from the free throw line, recorded 28 assists, just two shy of their season high, and tallied five blocks.