Mystics fall to Dream in Atlanta, semifinals even at 1-1

Box Score

For most of Tuesday night’s Game 2 in Atlanta, the Mystics looked poised to take a commanding 2-0 lead in the best of 5 series. The tables turned drastically with just over three minutes remaining in the fourth quarter when Elena Delle Donne (27 points, 14 rebounds, six assists) went down with a left knee injury and did not return.

After Delle Donne’s injury, the Dream closed the game on a 10-5 run to even the series with a 78-75 win on their home floor. Atlanta’s defense was stout all night, making life hard on the Mystics and keeping Washington from igniting another 3-point barrage. Alex Bentley led Atlanta with 22 points off the bench, while Tiffany Hayes added 17 points.

In a back and forth first half that featured fairly balanced scoring from Mystics after a dominant Game 1 from Delle Donne, the Dream came out of the gates aggressively and put Washington on its heels. Atlanta led by as many as seven in the first quarter, but surrendered the lead after Delle Donne got going from the field and nearly posted a double-double (10 points, 9 rebounds) at the break.

Game 2 was a predictably physical game, with the pressure of a short series weighing on Atlanta. The Dream asserted themselves and gained a lopsided edge on the boards on the night, outrebounding Washington, 44-26. Helping them withstand the Mystics’ runs and counter with a critical one of their own in the second half. At the end of the third quarter, the Dream finished the frame on a 12-2 run that drew them even after Washington had opened up a nine-point lead.

Without Delle Donne in the game, Kristi Toliver (16 points) scored all five of the Mystics’ points for the remainder of the game. With 20.6 seconds remaining in the game, Bentley came up with the game-sealing steal on a Mystics inbound play. But with Atlanta up just two, Bentley split the free throws after an intentional foul and left the door cracked open. That left the floor to Toliver, who saw her 3-point jumper fall off the rim as time expired.

Next, the series shifts to Washington for Games 3 and 4, with Game 3 set for Friday night at George Washington University’s Charles E. Smith Center. Tipoff is scheduled for 8 p.m. on ESPNNews and NBATV.