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Talking Stick Resort Arena, Phoenix, AZ – The Washington Mystics (5-1) beat the Phoenix Mercury (2-3) 103-95 behind Kristii Toliver’s 30 points and 21 points from Ariel Atkins.
Washington Mystics were without their leading scorer Elena Delle Donne.
It was a back-and-forth battle to start as both teams were executing in different ways. The Mercury started by attacking the rim with Dewanna Bonner and Britney Griner. The Mystics were led by the hot shooting of Kristi Toliver as she scored from all over the floor.
A very well played first quarter ended with the teams knotted at 26.
Monique Currie was aggressive to end the first quarter and started that second quarter with that same energy as she continued to attack the rim.
Neither team could seperate from one another as the score was 31-31 with 5:57 left in the quarter.
Toliver continued her hot shooting in the second quarter as the Mystics started to get a little separation. Washington’s defense helped as well as they made it harder to get the ball to Griner and once she got the ball they doubled hard forcing the ball out of her hands.
“We’ve been a good defensive team, that’s also our identity. That’s what ignites our offense,” said Toliver.
The first half ended with the Mystics up 49-43 behind 15 points from Toliver. Griner had 15 points as well but 13 of those came in the first quarter. Dewanna Bonner added 11 points for the Mercury.
The Mystics started off the 3rd quarter on a 6-0 run. Their defensive pressure turned up a notch. The added defensive pressure along with excellent perimeter shooting opened up an 18-point lead for Washington.
After three quarters, the Mystics were 9-12 from behind the 3-point line.
Toliver had 12 points in the third quarter alone. “When you knock down a couple threes, it changes the momentum of the game,” explained Mystics head coach Mike Thibault, “It probably got us to relax a bit.”
The Mercury started the fourth quarter out with urgency on both ends at they came out on 10-0 run. Washington kept their composure as they responded with a 12-2 run after a timeout.
The fast paced offense from the Mystics seemed to be too much for Phoenix as Washington scored at will.
“It helps when you’ve got a rookie that shows up with 21 points and your point guard drops 30. That’s a good formula right there,” stated Thibault.
Although they loss, there were two bright spots for Phoenix as Griner led them with 27 points and Bonner finished with 25 points.