Washington, D.C. – The noise was positively deafening as the Washington Mystics faced the Seattle Storm on camp day in the nation’s Capital Tuesday. And in the end, Washington was absolutely dominating, as they ran over Seattle, 100-70.
Elena Delle Donne led the way for the Mystics, scoring 25 points on 10 field goals in just under 25 minutes of action. Kristi Toliver scored 15 points – her third consecutive double-digit outing; Tayler Hill had 14 points and Tierra Ruffin-Pratt scored 11 points and grabbed 12 rebounds.
Toliver’s performance was an especially bright spot for Washington. In the offseason, coach Mike Thibault sought her out in hopes that her championship experience and prolific scoring ability would help propel his team to the top of the league, and she seems to have found her stride over the last few games.
Toliver shot 50 percent from the field in the Storm match up, going 3-8 from long range.
“I’m just taking things in as they come,” Toliver said. “I don’t want to force anything. I’m just getting a little more comfortable within the system and learning my teammates. I’m certainly not there yet, I think I could be much better, but you can definitely see that we’re progressing.”
A constant concern for the Mystics this season has been their ability to sustain a lead at the start of the second half. Against Seattle, Washington kept their lead intact, and even built on it further after pulling ahead, 56-31 at halftime, which is cause to believe they are heading in the right direction.
“We’re playing a very tough stretch of games against the top teams in the league, so consistency is going to be key,” center Krystal Thomas said. “That’s definitely something we talk about, we know when we go back out there it’s zero to zero.”
“We have to keep playing and fighting because in this league, these teams are too good. If you come out for one second and you relax and that’s when a 25-point lead turns into 15, and now you’ve got a game. It was all about coming out, keeping our foot on the gas pedal, being aggressive and competing.”
Thibault was pleasantly surprised at how well his team performed during the second half.
“I didn’t really envision being able to sit down the whole fourth quarter when I got here today,” he said. “Today I thought we sustained (consistent energy) for a long period of time. I was a little worried at the start of the third quarter, we’ve had a couple flat starts lately when we’ve had big leads. The first couple minutes I was wondering, but we got going again and that was the only real low point in the game. That’s what we’ve been harping on, you’ve got to have a consistency throughout the game.”
Crystal Langhorne had 15 points for the Storm, and Breanna Stewart and Ramu Tokashiki each added 11. Jewell Loyd, who has established herself as a capable offensive talent, was limited to only four points.
Seattle turned the ball over 23 times, resulting in 31 Mystics points. Coach Jenny Boucek said her team simply got outmatched.
“We ran into a buzz saw,” she said. “We missed shots we normally make early, and they caught fire, and once you give a good offensive team like this that much momentum, it’s tough to stop them.”
Washington is back at home Thursday to face the fourth-place New York Liberty. They now sit at third place in the league standings, riding a two-game winning streak.