Bringing You Another Side Of The Story

Mystics overcome Aces in tale of two halves

The Washington Mystics moved to 3-0 after a dominant second half against the Las Vegas Aces. The emphasis is on the second half because after an ugly first two quarters, the Mystics made the adjustments needed to solidify the 89-76 victory.

“We couldn’t have looked much worse than we did in the first quarter and part of the second quarter,” Mystics Coach Mike Thibault said. “My question at halftime was are we going to stop just one thing that they do. We didn’t stop anything in the first half. We came out and got a good start. We got execution three or four plays in a row and we got stops. Then all of the sudden you could feel the momentum shift.”

That momentum shift included the Mystics coming back from a 15-point first half deficit to outscore the Aces 53-27 after halftime.

When asked what changed the trajectory of the game, Ariel Atkins kept is simple: “We just did what the coaches asked us to do.”

Additionally, the Mystics were without Natasha Cloud who was ruled out due to health and safety protocols and Alysha Clark is still managing a foot injury.

This left the point guard position in the hands of rookies Rui Machada (9 points) and Katie Benzan who both stepped up to the challenge.

“I didn’t know Natasha couldn’t play until this morning but I feel I just got to do it,” Machada said. “I was a little nervous in the first half but in the second half, we felt like we had to change our mind and just keep going. We were able to execute so we did.”

Benzan knocked down 3-4 attempts from beyond the arc, finishing with 12 points on the night. She also managed to outscore Las Vegas Aces star A’ja Wilson.

The most impressive aspect of the Mystics first 3-0 start since 2020 is that they are playing well with a depleted roster. According to Myisha Hines-Allen, that means there is a lot more potential for this team moving forward.

Other game notes:

  • Mystics forward Myisha Hines-Allen tied a career-best with eight assists, also notching a season-high 15 points, eight rebounds, three steals and two blocks on the night.
    • Hines-Allen becomes just the second Mystics player in team history to notch 15+ points, 8+ rebounds and 8+ assists in a single game, joining Kristi Toliver (18 pts., eight rebs., nine ast. on 7/7/19 at LAS).
  • Washington forward Elena Delle Donne tied a game-high with 19 points, going a perfect 8-of-8 from the free throw line.
  • Washington guard Ariel Atkins tallied 13 points on 5-of-11 shooting (.455) and has now scored in double figures in three-straight games to open up the campaign.
    • Atkins’ eight total rebounds are the second-most recorded in a single game in her career (9, 8/21/20 vs. DAL).