Mystics Gained Playoff Birth As They Outlast Mercury

Talking Stick Resort Arena, Phoenix, AZ – The Washington Mystics (18-11) defeated the Phoenix Mercury (16-14) 103-98 behind a stellar night from Elena Delle Donne.

Delle Donne scored 30 points on 10-14 shooting from the field and 8-8 from the free throw line. She was helped by fellow all star Kristi Toliver who scored 25 points.

Phoenix came up short but it was not due to a lack of scoring from their stars as Britney Griner scored 35 points, Diana Taurasi scored 29 points and Dewanna Bonner scored 20 points.

Washington got off to a quick start as they chose to attack Mercury forward Stephanie Talbot on the offensive end as whoever she defended would be aggressive. They also also took advantage of their size by forcing switches and taking advantage in the post.

Delle Donne had a perfect quarter as she shot 4-4 from the field while making both of her shots from beyond the three point arc for a total of 10 points.

The Mystics were up 30-20 after the first quarter behind the efforts of Delle Donne and Toliver who had 10 points as well. Phoenix was led by Diana Taurasi who scored nine points in the quarter.

“We moved the ball, had a nigh number of assists and we were able to step into our shots tonight, instead of having to play off the dribble,” said Washington Mystics Head Coach Mike Thibault pertaining to the team’s efficient offensive night.

The second quarter started off with more of the same from the Mystics. Marie Gulich came into the game and made an immediate impact by scoring inside. The Mercury kept the game close by playing through Griner on the offensive end.

The problem for Phoenix was on the defensive end as Delle Donne continued to torch them. Toliver added to the onslaught as well, making some very tough shots.

Phoenix ended the half off a good note with Bonner and Taurasi leading the way as they closed the gap.

Washington was up 57-50 at the half. Delle Donne led the way with 18 points, only missing one shot in the half. Toliver scored 14 points in the half. The two All-Stars weren’t alone as Latoya Sanders added 10 points.

The Mercury were led by “The Big 3” as Griner had 20 points, Taurasi had 15 and Bonner scored 10 points during the first two quarters.

Phoenix came out to start the third quarter with a renewed energy on the defensive end forcing the Mystics into tough contested shots unlike in the first half. On the offensive end, they continued to run the offense through Griner who was up to the challenge as she scored again and again while finding the open teammate out of double-teams. The Mercury were up 69-66 with 4:36 left in the quarter.

Bonner was able to add to the avalanche of points by the Mercury by running the floor for open lay-ups and hitting open three point shots.

Mercury were up 76-75 after the third quarter.

To start the fourth quarter, the Mystics gained the lead back behind the efficient play of Toliver and Delle Donne. Washington tempo changed as they sped up the pace which led to easier shots.

The Mystics looked to have the game in the bag until Phoenix made one last run and actually had a chance to tie the game with 15 seconds left but had a terrible possession that ended in a turnover.

The end of the game was not the prettiest as the Mystics missed free throws which allowed the Mercury back into the game but the Mercury were not able to fully capitalize. This is the first game the Mercury have lost all season when leading after three quarters.

Damian Adams

San Diego, California

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