Washington continues to roll, tops Las Vegas 89-76

Washington, D.C. (May 10, 2022) Photo: WNBA Enterprises, LLC.
Washington, D.C. (May 10, 2022) – Elena Delle Donne. Photo: WNBA Enterprises, LLC.

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In their third game of the season, the Washington Mystics (3-0) extended a winning streak in a tough contest against Las Vegas (2-1), 89-76. The Mystics played without key scorer, guard Natasha Cloud, who averages 18 points, five rebounds, and six assists per game. Japanese rookie Rui Machida started in place of Cloud and provided a defensive spark that helped the Mystics slow down Aces starting guard Kelsey Plum.

“I thought it was excellent defense,” Mystics head coach and general manager Mike Thibault said of Machida’s play. “You know, she made Kelsey Plum work for everything. She was aggressive. You know, I thought that she just makes offensive players have to feel her presence the whole time.”

Comeback For the Win

Five Washington players landed in double figures as they fought back from a 13-point deficit in the first quarter when the Aces led 26-13 heading into the second frame. In the ten minutes before the half, the teams scored 23 points each.

With three players in double figures led by Jackie Young (14 points, five rebounds), Las Vegas had a 49-36 lead heading into the locker room.

After the break, the Mystics blasted Las Vegas scoring 24 points compared to a dismal seven by the visiting Aces. Machida got the action going with a layup. Myisha Hines-Allen, Elena Delle Donne, and Ariel Atkins made critical shots in the 18-5 run that helped Washington recover and tie the game up at 54 all with about four minutes left in the quarter.

“We got them on their heels a little bit. We knew that they would be a little bit tired,” Thibault said. He added that his team “tried to stay aggressive the whole second half. And it worked.”

The Aces scored only seven points in the third quarter. In the fourth period, the visitors had 20 points compared to 29 by the Mystics. Washington opened the last period on a 14-4 run and led by as much as 17 points.

Delle Donne led the winners with 19 points and seven rebounds. She was perfect from the line, 8-of-8. It was just her second game of the season as she did not travel with the team over the weekend to an away contest at Minnesota.

Hines-Allen had an impressive stat line with fifteen points, eight rebounds, and eight assists. Atkins finished with 13 points plus eight rebounds. Rookie guard Katie Benzan added 12 points and made history as the first Dominican to play in a WNBA game. Tianna Hawkins was also in double figures with 10 points plus four rebounds.

Jackie Young had 19 points, seven rebounds, and four assists for the Aces. Three other players were in double figures, including Plum (18 points) and Dearica Hamby (14 points, eight rebounds). Center A’ja Wilson notched a double-double of 10 points and 11 rebounds plus four blocks. The double-double was the 40th in her career, putting her at third on the all-time franchise list behind Las Vegas general manager Natalie Williams and the late Margo Dydek.

For Thibault, the game against a talented team like Las Vegas was “a good test.”

“First of all, I think they’re a hard team to defend. I mean, like I said before the game, they have three guards that can all handle the ball, and they bring people off the bench like Sydney Colson, who can handle the ball. They all have the ability to penetrate. They all have the ability to shoot the ball.”

Next Up

The Aces stay on the road traveling to Atlanta for a Friday, May 13 game against the Dream. The Mystics host the Dallas Wings on the same day.

Notes

  • The Mystics are off to their first 3-0 start since the 2020 season.
  • Mystics forward Myisha Hines-Allen tied a career-best with eight assists.
  • The Mystics outrebounded the Aces 38-34.
  • Washington outscored Las Vegas 36-28 in the paint.
  • The Mystics bench outscored the La Vegas bench 27-13.

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