This afternoon’s game in Washington was a back-and-forth affair, but the Mystics made the decisive run over the final five minutes to pull away from the Lynx for a 90-78 victory, despite the absence of Elena Delle Donne in the second half due to illness.
The Mystics move to 4-0 on the season and have the look of a real contender one year after they made significant moves to upgrade their roster. They traded for Delle Donne and signed sharpshooter Kristi Toliver to go with Emma Meesseman (who is absent this season in preparation for the World Cup.) It didn’t come together last season due to injuries and problems meshing, but it appears that the Mystics have found the formula early this year.
The Lynx got off to a great start in this one behind Sylvia Fowles, who scored 13 points in the first quarter. They dominated both ends and took a 26-11 lead after one. The second quarter, however, featured their early season bugaboos: turnovers, three-point shooting disparity, and bench production, as the Mystics’ second unit drove them to a monster quarter that erased the early Lynx lead and led them to a seven point halftime advantage.
The Lynx erased that lead in the third, with Maya Moore taking control of the game with 10 points in the frame, and the Lynx headed to the final quarter up a bucket. But the Mystics dominated the offensive glass in the fourth, and made several big threes, while the Lynx offense went stagnant as they were unable to get the ball to Fowles, and nobody was able to loosen things up from the perimeter.
A Lindsay Whalen bucket with 6:20 left in the game gave the Lynx their last lead, 73-71. They were outscored 19-5 the rest of the way to fall to 2-2 on the season.
The Lynx got crushed on the glass 36-26, with the Mystics grabbing 14 offensive boards to the Lynx’ five. Much of that damage was done by rookie Myisha Hines-Allen off the bench, who finished with seven offensive boards along with 15 points, and did a great job limiting Fowles after the first quarter. In fact, the Mystics bench was a huge factor in this one, scoring 58 of their 90 points.
Another area that hurt the Lynx was three point shooting. Their 6-21 on the day didn’t match up with the Mystics’ 15-35. The Styx had four players make multiple threes, led by Toliver’s five. It was a huge factor in the game, as they made several big ones when it looked like the Lynx might take control in the third quarter.
So far this early season, the Lynx have been inconsistent. Seimone Augustus has a vintage game against the Liberty, but was nearly invisible today. That’s how it’s been for the entire roster, and while we can be confident there will be better days than today, the consistent greatness we’ve grown accustomed to hasn’t yet appeared early in 2018.