It was a battle of the WNBA Champions when the Washington Mystics took on the Chicago Sky at the Entertainment and Sports Arena on Sunday afternoon. The first half started off in the Mystics favor but the Sky’s chemistry was the difference maker that led them to a 82-73 win. Candace Parker also recorded a historic triple-double that catapulted her into WNBA history.
Specifically, with the triple-double being the second of her career, she is now just one of three players in league history with multiple triple-doubles, joining Sheryl Swoopes and Courtney Vandersloot. At 36 years old, she is also the oldest player in WNBA history with a triple-double.
“I don’t have a lot of good things to say,” Mystics coach Mike Thibault said afterwards. “Our offense is just not smooth at all right now. Defense was good in stretches and it was bad in stretches. We saw a team that won a championship and kind of knows how to play together right now. They played in championship form and we weren’t good enough in the second half.”
The game also marked the return of former Mystic Emma Meesseman who finished the game with 11 points. Although they were competitors on the floor, there was still a lot of nostalgia about her time in Washington.
“Emma is a great player,” Ariel Atkins said. “We all know that. We’ve watched her play in the W and around the world so that’s no shock to anybody. But I miss Emma as a person more than anything. That’s my friend. I like having good humans around me and she’s somebody that fits that role.”
Without Alysha Clark in the starting lineup, the Mystics dominated in the first half, holding the Sky to 38 points in addition to containing their stars and controlling the pace of the game. Shakira Austin was also having her way. The Sky didn’t have an answer for Austin as she went into halftime with 12 points.
However, the Mystics offensive woes began to show up late in the third quarter and that’s when the Sky’s magic started happening. Candace Parker led the way with 16 points followed by Azura Stevens (13) Kahleah Cooper (12 pts), and Rebekah Gardner/Emma Meesseman (11 pts).
For Atkins, the lack of stops and inability to make shots was the deciding factor in the team falling apart down the final stretch.
“I think we were allowing them to do whatever they wanted on the other end,” Atkins explained. “When you allow a team like Chicago to get going and to get that confidence and chemistry, it’s a hard thing to stop. Then when you got us playing the way we’re playing on the other end, it’s a hard combination.”
With four three-point field goals today, Atkins (222) passed Alana Beard (220) for the second-most three-point field goals made in franchise history.
The 2021 WNBA champions were a good test for the Mystics who learned some tough lessons from the loss. Now they have to apply it to the Atlanta Dream when they’re back at home for another matchup on Tuesday.