After a near-flawless victory to christen their home court, the Washington Mystics look to make it back-to-back wins Wednesday night when they host the Chicago Sky.
The Mystics opened the 4,200-seat Entertainment and Sports Arena in grand style Monday night, thrashing the Atlanta Dream 96-75. Elena Delle Donne, making her season debut, made her first seven shots and finished with 18 points as Washington took full advantage of an Atlanta team playing on the back end of consecutive nights.
"We shot the ball really well, obviously, so I don't think shooting will be an issue as far as the sightlines or anything (in the new arena). I think we've got that part figured out," coach Mike Thibault told The Washington Post. "We set the tone defensively in the first half. We made shots tough for them. Obviously they played last night, but we tried to take their legs from them with our pressure and with our transition back at them and make them have to work."
Delle Donne, who sat out Washington's season-opening loss with a hyperextended knee, sported a custom-made brace but also looked fluid on the court as she finished 7 of 9 from the floor and also had seven rebounds and three assists. The ex-Sky star and Kristi Tolliver combined for 17 first-quarter points when the Mystics opened a 10-point lead and never looked back.
"This brace, I actually love it," Delle Donne said. "It's a custom one, and it looks big, but I feel like I can move and do everything normal; I just feel a little bit safer in it. ... If it's going to give me that peace of mind, then I'll stay in it as long as I need to."
Delle Donne has averaged 20.2 points and 7.2 rebounds in helping Washington go 6-0 against her former team the last two years since forcing a trade from Chicago following the 2016 season. The Mystics have won seven straight over the Sky since an 86-84 overtime defeat July 1, 2016.
Chicago (1-1) broke through for its first win of the season Saturday night, upending defending WNBA champion Seattle 83-79. Courtney Vandersloot snapped a 79-all tie with a 12-footer with 47.6 seconds to play and added an insurance basket with 14.6 seconds left after the Sky got a defensive stop.
She finished two rebounds shy of a triple-double with 10 points and 11 assists while Allie Quigley scored 25 points and Natasha Howard chipped in 21. DeShields, who was held scoreless in Chicago's season-opening 89-71 loss to Minnesota, went 9 of 14 from the field as the Sky hit 51.4 percent of their shots.
"We had the lead for the majority of the game," Sky coach James Wade told the Chicago Sun-Times following his first win as coach. "We never wavered and went back on our heels. It was a game for us to win. ... We expected runs, but none of the players on the floor succumbed to the pressure. They kept level heads."