As the top two teams in the WNBA faced off Saturday in D.C., it appeared the Washington Mystics planned to run the Las Vegas Aces out the gym.
Washington jumped out to a 22-7 lead in the game’s first six minutes, but Las Vegas regained its composure, methodically chipped away at the deficit and eventually overtook the Mystics for an 85-81 win at the Entertainment and Sports Arena in Southeast.
The game was tight throughout the second half, but Washington (9-6) couldn’t contain Aces forward A’ja Wilson and backup point guard Sydney Colson, who scored 17 points each.
“We don’t always show toughness in games, but we had to buckle down no matter who they had on the court,” said Colson, who scored 11 in the second quarter to help Las Vegas stay close early. “We were focused on our game plan. We executed to the best of our ability after we took that first blow. We’re happy with the result, but we know we still have a long way to go.”
The Aces (11-5) won its fifth straight game and third in a row on the road.
The Mystics played a second straight game without All-Star forward Elena Delle Donne (nasal fracture). Emma Meesseman, who scored 15 points and grabbed seven rebounds, returned to the lineup after playing in the European championship.
Washington’s speed was neutralized against one of the biggest teams in the league, scoring four fast-break points the entire game.
Las Vegas outrebounded Washington 41-33 and held the Mystics to only 39 percent from the floor.
Washington point guard Natasha Cloud led all scorers with 18 points on 6-for-15 shooting.
Mystics guard Kristi Toliver contributed 15 points and seven assists, but also had five turnovers.
“The fouls hurt us and they got some offensive boards they weren’t getting earlier,” said Mystics head coach Mike Thibault. “We let Sydney Colson come in and have a great game. I thought she turned the game around for them in the first half. She got them jump-started tonight.”
The Mystics don’t play again until Friday on the road against the Indiana Fever, with just two more games afterward — at home July 21 against the Atlanta Dream and on the road against the Minnesota Lynx on July 24 — before the All-Star break.
“To be 9-6 at this point in the season, we’re going to be in really good shape in the second part of the season,” Thibault said.