Washington, D.C. – Despite a changed lineup from their first meeting days earlier, the Mystics again downed the Sky Friday, 88-79.
Washington was without starting center Emma Meesseman, who departed for Eurobasket play Thursday, while Chicago had just added starting point guard Courtney Vandersloot – back from overseas play. But the results were the same.
Elena Delle Donne led five Mystics in double figures, with 20 points, while Tayler Hill added 19 and Kristi Toliver and Tianna Hawkins each had 12.
The game seemed as if it would be close at the outset, with both teams trading baskets through most of the first half. The home team didn’t miss a beat, inserting Krystal Thomas into the starting lineup for Meesseman, who will miss the next month playing with the Belgian National Team.
Thomas fit in seamlessly, finishing the night with a team-high 10 rebounds, while asserting her presence on the inside.
“My job was the same whether I started or whether I came off the bench. To bring energy, to defend, and to rebound,” she said. “No matter where I’m coming from, as long as I’m on the floor, that’s what I’m going to do.”
The Sky got their biggest contributions from sharpshooter Allie Quigley and slasher Tamera Young, who scored 17 points and 16 points, respectively.
Vandersloot had an impressive first outing for the Sky, scoring 10 points and dishing out six assists, while Cappie Pondexter stuffed the stat sheet with nine points, eight assists and six rebounds.
Although not the result she was hoping for, Vandersloot was relieved to be back with her squad.
“I’m not quite as comfortable, it’s a new system,” she said, referring to the coaching change of Amber Stocks for Pokey Chatman in the offseason. “It’s a process and it’s going to take time but my teammates make it easy on me, and I’m really happy to be back.”
Unfortunately for Vandersloot and the visitors, Washington came out guns blazing in the second half, going on a 14-0 run in the first 6:31 of the third quarter. The Mystics also managed to hold Chicago to only eight points in the period.
The Sky, however, did not throw in the towel. Mystics head coach Mike Thibault took note of the role his team’s defensive breakdown played in fueling Chicago’s fourth quarter run.
“I don’t know how you go from giving up 8 in one quarter to 33 in the next, but we figured out a way to do it,” he said. “Any time you play a team in consecutive games and the teams have a chance to adjust, it feels a little bit like a playoff series. They made a few adjustments, and we made a couple, and I thought for three quarters we did a lot well.”
Luckily for Thibault and company, the game stayed just out of reach of Chicago, and Washington improved to 3-2 on the season.
The Mystics will seek to earn their fourth win against the eleventh-ranked Connecticut Sun in D.C. on Wednesday.