Powers nets career-high 27 points as Mystics defeat Sun

Mystics get the best of Connecticut Sun in rematch from the WNBA finals 

By Demetrius Dillard/The Sports Pulse Contributor
Courtesy Photo

BRADENTON, Fla. — Washington Mystics guard Aerial Powers scored a team-high 27 points, and Myisha Hines-Allen totaled 16 points and eight rebounds to lead the defending WNBA champions to a slim 94-89 win over the Connecticut Sun on Tuesday night.

Emma Meesseman added 12 points, eight assists and six boards while forwards Ariel Atkins chipped in with 16 points to help the Mystics improve to 2-0 on the season.

Powers, a fifth-year player from Michigan State, and Hines-Allen got the Mystics off to a strong start as they took a 26-20 lead at the end of the first quarter.

However, DeWanna Bonner led the Sun’s comeback as they chipped away at Washington’s lead throughout the second. Bonner sank a deep 3-pointer with just under four minutes left in the first half to give Connecticut its first lead. 

In Washington’s next possession, Powers responded with a long-range 3-pointer from the left wing to help the Mystics reclaim the lead. However, Connecticut went on a 13-7 scoring run to take a 52-48 lead at the break.

To open the third, Washington got out in transition as Hines-Allen and Powers continued to produce on the offensive end, helping their team recapture the lead with three-and-a-half minutes remaining. Heading into the fourth, the Mystics held a 76-71 advantage.

Guard Essence Carson hit a corner 3-pointer off a feed from Hines-Allen, and Powers drilled another left-wing 3 to kick off the fourth quarter as Washington rebuilt a double-digit lead early on. The Mystics’ largest lead of the night, 88-73, came off of a breakaway lay-in by Hines-Allen with 5:52 left in the game.

The Sun didn’t surrender, though they were down 15 points with time ticking away. They forced multiple turnovers and went on a 7-0 run to close the gap to 88-80. Late 3-pointers by Jacki Gemelos and Bonner, along with a layup by Natisha Hiedeman, brought Connecticut within two points, 91-89, with about 1:40 remaining.

With a chance to tie the game, Bonner missed a fall-away jumper and a layup. Washington grabbed both rebounds and converted free throws to seal the win.

Bonner led Connecticut with a game-high 29 points with nine rebounds and five assists. Alyssa Thomas played a crucial role for the Sun, recording 28 points, 11 rebounds and three assists. With the loss, the Sun dropped to 0-2 to start the season. 

En route to the big win, Washington connected on 17 of 21 free throws (81%) and capitalized on 19 turnovers by the Sun. Powers was 10 of 14 shooting from the field, including 4 of 6 from beyond the arc. 

Washington hopes to continue the win streak as it faces the Seattle Storm at 6 p.m. on Thursday. The game will be broadcast on ESPN.

Washington Mystics show off championship rings

By Arthur Cribbs/The Sports Pulse Contributor

Courtesy photo

WASHINGTON – As the Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA) anticipates a late-July return to action, the defending champion Washington Mystics came together on Sunday to honor their historic 2019 season. 

After an eight-month hiatus from basketball, the Mystics received their rings at the private ceremony at Salamander Resort & Spa in Middleburg, Virginia.

“Our season was historic, extending beyond the records they broke along their journey,” said Mystics managing partner Sheila C. Johnson. “This ring represents the leadership of Coach Mike Thibault, the resilience of our team – who kept their promise to #RunItBack, on the court, and in our community – and a season that Mystics fans will always cherish.”

The rings, which were crafted by Jostens, consist of 120 diamonds, 35 rubies and 23 sapphires in 10-karat white gold. The Mystics DC logo and the WNBA Championship trophy sit on top with a half dozen custom-cut sapphires and six custom-cut rubies to represent the 12-player roster and a single round sapphire to symbolize head coach, Mike Thibault. 

The left side features the players’ last names and jersey number, while the right side spells out “RUN IT BACK” and the team’s 26-8 record from the 2019 season. The interior of the ring includes playoff scores and logos of opponents.

Staying unique to the nation’s capital, the ring also features District landmarks such as the Washington Monument, Capitol Building and the Lincoln Memorial, as well as symbols to represent the team’s home location in Ward 8.

“You’d think it would be loud, but we were all kind of quiet because we were all just taking in the moment and just studying the rings,” said Mystics forward Elena Delle Donne. “They’re absolutely beautiful.”

Choosing to receive the rings at a private event, the Mystics are not the only DMV team celebrating a championship season. The Washington Nationals, who initially planned on a virtual ring ceremony in May, instead chose to postpone the event for a later, more physical reunion. 

In the Mystics case, collectibles are available for purchase on the Josten website with prices ranging from $29 for a Championship Key Ring to nearly $9,000 for a Limited Edition Ring.

Winning their first championship in their 22-year history, the Mystics sparked a high-octane offense, leading the WNBA with 89.3 points per game and 21.9 assists per game. Delle Donne won her second career MVP award during the 2019 season, averaging 19.5 points and 8.3 rebounds per contest. Four other Mystics also averaged double figures for the season.

As the Mystics aim to run it back in 2020, they will be hurdling several losses to the roster, including Natasha Cloud and LaToya Sanders, who have opted out of playing this season. Additionally, Kristi Toliver and Shatori Walker-Kimbrough have moved on to the Los Angeles Sparks and Phoenix Mercury, respectively.

Taking their place will be former number one pick and 2012 MVP, Tina Charles, former number two selection, Alaina Coates, 30-year-old rookie Shey Peddy and veteran Essence Carson. 

In the adjusted season, which has been shortened from 36 to 22 games, the WNBA teams will spend the entirety of the 2020 season at IMG Academy in Bradenton, Florida.