After an 11-day, four-game road trip with a 4-0 record, the Washington Mystics returned home Saturday to the Entertainment and Sports Arena in southeast D.C.
Amid 4,200 fans and with a chance to take first place in the Eastern Conference against a team they’ve lost to twice already this season, Washington soundly beat the Connecticut Sun 102-59.
The 43-point blowout marked the largest margin of victory in franchise history.
“There’s a lot to take away from this game,” said head coach Mike Thibault. “What we have been trying to find is the balance of great defense and some good offense. Everything you could ask for in a game we did today.”
Washington averages a league-best 87 points per contest, but Thibault said defense has been the team’s strength during its current five-game winning streak.
The Sun (9-4) were held to 15 points or less in each quarter, shot only 30 percent from the floor and committed 15 turnovers that led to 20 Washington points.
Connecticut, which ranks third in the WNBA in rebounding at nearly 37 per game, was beaten on the boards 40-33.The Mystics average just under 34 per contest, which ranks 10th among the 12-team league.
The Mystics had six players score in double figures led by Elena Delle Donne’s 19. Washington shot 53 percent from the floor and made all 21 of its free throws.
“Everybody is just a year older [and] a year wiser and knows the importance of playing both ends of the floor,” said guard Kristi Toliver, who scored 14 points and dished out five assists. “Last year, we were close to winning what we wanted. [If] we can continue to play at a high level on the defensive end, we’re going to give ourselves a really good chance to be able to win.”
Besides moving to the top of the East, Washington also improved to a league-best 9-3.
The Mystics’ next game is Friday on the road against the Las Vegas Aces (6-5), which Washington beat 95-72 on June 20.
Washington doesn’t return home until July 10 against the Phoenix Mercury (4-5).
“We are nowhere near what we want to be,” said Mystics forward Tianna Hawkins, who scored 12 points in less than 12 minutes Saturday. “We just have to take it game by game. We are nowhere finished.”