Third time’s the charm.
After dropping their first two meetings against the Connecticut Sun (9-4), the Washington Mystics (9-3) handed the league’s best team one of the worst losses in WNBA history with a 102-59 rout Saturday.
The crowd in the nearly-packed Entertainment and Sports Arena chanted “We’re number one!” at the end of the third quarter, with the top spot in the league in sight.
“I had a feeling we were gonna win,” Washington guard Kristi Toliver said. “I think we were obviously extremely motivated after losing to those guys twice. We knew we were better than that, so we owed them one.”
The Mystics had been here before. Riding a four-game win streak in early June, they entered much-hyped game against the Sun and lost, 83-75.
This time, on another four-game surge, the Mystics came out on top in a nationally-televised clash.
The difference this go-around? Defense.
“It’s held its own for five straight games now, and that’s why we have five wins,” coach Mike Thibault said. “We’re holding teams in the 30-something percent [shooting] range … Our team has committed themselves to the defensive end of the floor.”
The Mystics out-rebounded the Sun, 40-33, while forcing 14 turnovers.
The scoring was just as superb.
Washington held the lead from start to finish, shooting 53% from the field with 13 3-pointers. They also made all 21 of their free throws.
“I think it was just one of those games that our players have a great feeling about themselves right now and how we’re playing,” Thibault said. “When you’ve lost to a team like we did a couple weeks ago up at their place and we didn’t finish the game in the fourth quarter – I’m sure that’s on their minds when we walk out here.”
It was the worst offensive and defensive performance of the season for Connecticut, now on a three-game losing streak.
Elena Delle Donna led Washington with 19 points and 10 rebounds. Six total Washington players scored in the double digits.
The Mystics return to action July 5 at the Las Vegas Aces (6-5).
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