The Washington Mystics have the opportunity to avenge their only loss of the season Tuesday night when they play the Connecticut Sun at Mohegan Sun Arena for the second time in less than three weeks.
Playing without injured star Elena Delle Donne (left knee soreness) in the season opener May 25, the Mystics (4-1) kept the game competitive until midway through the third quarter. It was then Connecticut (3-1) took control of the contest with a 13-2 run and maintained a double-digit lead en route to an 84-69 victory.
The Mystics, though, are proving to be more than Delle Donne as they bid for back-to-back WNBA Finals appearances. Tianna Hawkins scored a career-high 21 points and Aerial Powers added a season-best 18 against her former team as Washington shook off a slow start Sunday and kept the Wings winless in an 86-62 romp.
"It's a luxury to have multiple players that can do multiple things and set up for you," guard Kristi Toliver told The Washington Post after chipping in 14 points and six assists. "You don't want one or two people having to carry the load for 34 games; that's going to wear you down when it matters the most."
Washington comfortably leads the WNBA with 89.6 points per game and is hitting a league-best 8.8 3-pointers per contest. Delle Donne is averaging a team-best 14.3 points and is one of five players scoring in double figures. Another three players are averaging at least 8.8 points for the Mystics, who have won by an average of 18.0 points during their four-game winning streak.
Connecticut (5-1) figures to pose a strong challenge to Washington's high-powered offense as it seeks a fourth consecutive victory. The Sun received double-doubles from Jonquel Jones and Alyssa Thomas on Sunday in Atlanta, but it was their defense that keyed the 65-59 victory.
The Sun held the Dream to 11 fourth-quarter points - picking up a sputtering offense that totaled nine points in the final 10 minutes - and recorded 13 steals while holding Atlanta to 32.4 percent shooting. That helped offset a horrid shooting effort from the Sun, who finished at just 28.4 percent that included making only 3 of 18 from 3-point range.
"It was our defense tonight. When you win a game and shoot in the 20 percents, in 30 years, I've never been associated with a win when you shoot in the 20 percents," Sun coach Curt Miller told the team's official Twitter account. "Our defense is what we've hung our hat on so far this season when our offense has struggled."
Jones has posted double-doubles in four of her first six games while averaging 17.0 points and 13.0 rebounds. She had 10 and 14, respectively, in the season-opening win over the Mystics and added three blocks.
The Sun are second in the league in scoring defense, yielding 72.2 points per contest, and are holding opponents to a league-low 25.7 percent shooting from beyond the arc.