In a game Tuesday that featured two of the WNBA’s top three teams, the Washington Mystics quickly extinguished any glimmer of hope for the Los Angeles Sparks, which came into southeast D.C. on a three-game winning streak.
The Mystics’ dominant home-court advantage was evident again in a 95-66 victory before a sellout crowd at the Entertainment and Sports Arena.
Part of the story in Tuesday’s victory was the 3-point line, where Washington shot 11-for-35, compared to just 3-of-21 for Los Angeles, a 33-9 advantage.
Mystics head coach Mike Thibault credited the team’s defense for the win. The Sparks (18-11), which average about 80 points per contest, scored only 10 points in the third quarter.
“We played our big lineup a lot in the first half to try and neutralize the boards and be able to switch on some things,” he said. “When you put all of our bigs on the floor, it’s a lot of shooting bigs and they can do multiple things.”
Mystics center LaToya Sanders and forward Elena Delle Donne recorded five and four assists, respectively. Sanders took only one shot attempt and scored one point, but pulled down nine rebounds.
Mystics forward Emma Messeeman came off the bench to score 12 points and grab five rebounds.
One of the game’s unique moments came at the opening tip when Shatori Walker-Kimbrough rushed onto the court after Aerial Powers went into the locker room with what Thibault called a “uniform malfunction.” It didn’t matter because Powers scored a game-high 20 points, 11 coming in the third quarter.
After Powers drained a 3-pointer to give Washington a 65-40 lead, Los Angeles called a timeout and she enthusiastically waved her arms toward the fans.
“When we get here, we care so much about out crowd. If you can’t see it, we feed off it,” she said. “I love our crowd. We almost hit 100 points again. We’ve just been really hot.”
In the Mystics’ past six home games including Tuesday, the team’s average margin of victory was 27 points.
Entering Tuesday’s game, both teams ranked in the top three in free-throw percentage and 3-point percentage.
Two-time league MVP and five-time All-Star Candace Parker scored 12 points for the Sparks along with her teammate Chelsea Gray.
Washington is now a league-best 22-8 with four games left in the regular season.
Several players also have a shot at breaking franchise records this season. Natasha Cloud, who scored 15 points and dished out six assists Tuesday, is now 16 assists shy of Nikki Teasley’s mark of 183 set in 2006.
“Anything but a championship will be a disappointing season,” Sanders said. “We’re not here to make it to the finals [or] break individual records. We’re here to win a championship.”
Before the game, Cloud received the league’s community service award for her work with children in the District at clinics and the importance of fitness and participating in youth sports.
Cloud received the award at center court from WNBA legend Dawn Staley, a fellow Philadelphia native and the award’s namesake.
“I’m a Philly kid, so Dawn Staley’s been a legend since I was super small. I love her as a coach and a player,” Cloud said. “I’m excited to share this with D.C. My parents raised us to be good kids and treat everyone with respect and kindness. What God intended for my journey and my career is much greater than the game.”