By Zach Rosen
For the first time in franchise history, the Washington Mystics are 4-0 to begin the regular season. Led by Kristi Toliver’s 19 points and the team’s 15 3-pointers, the Mystics took down the defending champion Minnesota Lynx, 90-78. Erasing a 26-11 first quarter deficit, the Mystics outscored the Lynx 79-52 in the final three quarters. Elena Delle Donne (illness) missed nearly the entire final three quarters of the game, yet the team was able to come together and win.
Here are takeaways from the Mystics’ big win in D.C. on Sunday night.
Rookies and bench mob spark second quarter comeback
The Mystics entered the second quarter down 26-11, but they certainly weren’t out of the game. Fueled by the bench mob, the Mystics went on a 24-4 run to take a 35-32 lead in the second quarter. Washington’s second unit scored 32 of the team’s 35 points in the second, with Ariel Atkins leading the group with 11 points. Myisha Hines-Allen (more on her later) would grab four offensive rebounds, while Natasha Cloud dished out six of her team-high eight assists. Overall in the game, the bench scored 58 points, making 24-of-40 (60.0%) of their shots from the field.
Hines-Allen does the dirty work
The rookie out of Louisville Hines-Allen was able to put in work on Sunday, setting career-highs with 15 points, 13 rebounds, and 7 offensive rebounds. Hines-Allen made 7-of-8 field goals in the win, but her offensive rebounding and knack for the loose ball gave the Mystics a huge boost off the bench. She also had some clutch layups near the end of the shot clock and found herself playing extended minutes – 25 to be exact – with Delle Donne out.
Mystics make it rain from deep
With Delle Donne out, the Mystics needed to get going from beyond the arc to keep up with the defending champs. Washington had a season-high 15 3-pointers in the win, making 42.9% of the team’s 35 attempts. Toliver’s five triples led the Mystics, while Atkins added four. On the other side, the Lynx only made 6-of-21 (28.6%) 3-pointers on the day. The Mystics’ perimeter defense was able to step in and defend without fouling against some of the best players in the NBA.
Next up: Storm, Mercury back-to-back
The Mystics will take their undefeated record out West, taking on the Storm on Tuesday night and the Mercury on Wednesday night in a tough back-to-back.