The Washington Mystics have arguably the league’s best offense, and it showed Sunday during a 101-78 victory over the Minnesota Lynx before a sellout crowd at the Entertainment and Sports Arena in southeast D.C.
The Mystics (17-7) have won three games in a row and eight of the past nine. It was the team’s fourth time this season scoring at least 100 points.
Though the Mystics lead the league in scoring, field goal percentage and 3-pointers made, head coach Mike Thibault credits defense for the team’s recent success.
Minnesota (12-12) shot 48 percent from the floor Sunday but pulled down only 22 rebounds, 12 below the team’s average this season.
The Lynx’s All-Star center Sylvia Fowles was held to just three points and five rebounds in 23 minutes after getting into early foul trouble.
“We doubled her a little bit. We kept her from getting offensive rebounds,” Thibault said. “Sometimes the best defense against her is to make her have to play in the other end.”
The Mystics’ depth was needed when, with eight seconds left in the first half, Fowles set a pick on Mystics 5-foot-11 forward Ariel Atkins, who fell hard to the floor. The call on Fowles was reviewed and eventually ruled a common foul and not a flagrant.
Atkins didn’t play in the second half and the Mystics didn’t provide an injury update after the game. Washington also was without All-Star guard Kristi Tolliver, who sat with an injured right knee.
All-Star center Elena Delle Donne notched a double-double with 23 points and 10 rebounds, while Aerial Powers, who started in place of Tolliver, chipped in 20 points, five rebounds and three assists.
“I don’t think my mentality changed at all,” Powers said of her insertion into the starting lineup. “When I get out there, I just try to give all I got. It shouldn’t change no matter whether you start or [not]. Come out there hard and give whatever you have for your team.”
Washington’s reserves outscored their counterparts 48-29, led by Kim Mestdagh’s 13.
Emma Meesseman, who returned last month after playing in the European championship, scored a game-high 25 points and was a perfect 6 of 6 from the free-throw line.
“We do grow as a team every single day [and] every single practice,” Meesseman said. “I just hope we keep it going. Everybody brought that extra energy to replace those who were injured.”
Six of the Mystics’ last nine regular-season games are at home, including its next game Wednesday against the Seattle Storm (14-11).
With the Connecticut Sun’s loss Sunday evening to the Las Vegas Aces (15-9), Washington now sits atop the Eastern Conference and WNBA standings.
“There’s no time to be taking a breather,” Delle Donne said. “This league is way too good. There [are] teams coming up, knocking on the door. I try just not to even look at those standings. If we can take care of our business, we’re good.”