The WNBA is back in business and that means the Washington Mystics are on another quest for a championship. With most of their roster intact with mainstays Natasha Cloud and additions like Brittany Sykes and Kristi Toliver, the Mystics may be the most complete team in the league right now. This is because so many WNBA teams made major roster moves in free agency.
One of those teams happened to be the Mystics home opener opponent the New York Liberty. In the offseason they added heavy hitters such as Courtney Vandersloot, Breanna Stewart, and Jonquel Jones to take the pressure off Sabrina Ionescu. As a team still trying to gel, they were no match for the Mystics.
The Mystics went to work in front of a sold-out crowd at the Entertainment and Sports Arena. After shaking off some first quarter jitters, it was evident they were finding their stride. Defense has been an issue in past seasons, but they managed to hold the Liberty to 64 points, dominating on both ends of the floor. They ultimately went on to defeat the Liberty 80-64.
Everyone was involved including Shakira Austin who had a nasty block in the first quarter, Kristi Toliver contributed off the bench, Tianna Hawkins hit 1500 career points, and Brittany Sykes emerged as a threat.
With nine total rebounds, Sykes brought down the most rebounds in her career in a single game since her nine-rebound performance on June 16, 2021. Sykes tallied 5 steals against the Liberty. In the 2022 season, Sykes recorded 5+ steals in two games and led the league in steals per game with 2.0. Four players finished in double figures: Natasha Cloud (14), Ariel Atkins (14), Elena Delle Donne (13), and Kristi Toliver (10).
The Mystics 6th man was also in full effect. The fans were loud and the energy was undeniable. After the game, Natasha Cloud discussed how they feed off the support of the fans.
“We got the best fans in the W and that’s on period. The DMV is something different. Since I’ve been here for eight years, I’ve felt nothing but love and support.”
Eric Thibault also made his head coaching debut and acknowledged that the fans will be a huge part of their success moving forward.
“It felt different because it was opening night. There was a definite buzz in the arena. We’ve had a great home court ever since we moved into the building. I think that’s going to be the backbone of any success we have this season, taking care of our home floor. It felt good. It felt like the team we wanted to be in training camp showed up.”
The Mystics are back in action on the road Sunday against the Connecticut Sun.