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Mystics beat Sun, first place – The Washington Post

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At halftime in the Washington Mystics’ 71-63 victory over the Connecticut Sun on Sunday at the Entertainment and Sports Arena, the franchise continued the celebration of its 25th season by inducting the first promotion into the Washington Mystics Hall of Fame.

The inductees – Murriel Page, Vicky Bullett and Chamique Holdsclaw – played pivotal roles in the formative years of the Mystics and the WNBA. As their highlights progressed, each received a standing ovation.

Three Mystics players who may one day be remembered just as fondly finished the ceremony with impressive performances. In the first half, it was Elena Delle Donne. The two-time WNBA MVP showed what a good decision it was for her to rest instead of play in Thursday’s loss to the New York Liberty. She came out shooting and scored 15 points before halftime as the Mystics took a 43-27 lead.

“Every game is different and I use it as practice because the season is so short,” said Delle Donne, whose playing time remains variable as she returns from problems that wiped out her previous two seasons. “There are games I haven’t been in so I just try to look different and keep attacking. But we have such a good team so anytime someone else is attacking and you never really need to force a lot.

After the end of the half-time ceremony, it was clear that Delle Donne would not force anything – not even his own score. She didn’t register another point the rest of the way. It still had its effect, facilitating the movement of the ball and contributing to a defensive effort that increased the lead to 22 points. In his place, two longtime Mystics (11-7) – Ariel Atkins and Natasha Cloud – delivered crucial second-half performances.

“It always feels good to be able to put on a show for the people you glorify tonight,” Atkins said. “Hoping you show them that you don’t take wearing the uniform lightly.”

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Washington’s backcourt controlled Connecticut throughout. By the end of the game, the Sun (12-5) had 16 turnovers to the Mystics’ 10, many of which came late when the game was decided.

Atkins cited how crucial communication was as she, Cloud and Alysha Clark held down the Sun’s high-volume scorers. Jonquel Jones led the Sun with 15 points, but no one else hit double digits. Double star Alyssa Thomas and 2021 star Courtney Williams were held to four and seven points respectively.

Cloud’s tenacity and ability to hold almost any position was key, as was his ability to communicate on defense.

“Our communication was at a high level tonight,” Atkins said.

Atkins finished with 12 points on 5-for-11 shooting to go with six assists, four rebounds and two steals. Atkins said she slowed her mind in high-pressure situations, allowing her to find open teammates such as Shatori Walker-Kimbrough, who had 10 points off the bench.

Cloud finished with eight points, five assists, four rebounds, three steals and a block – a showcase of her value as a two-way player.

“If you can play against a quality team and get more shots than them because you’re not turning them around and forcing them to take uncomfortable shots, then you have a great chance of winning,” said the coach Mike Thibault.

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Shakira Austin and Myisha Hines-Allen played limited minutes. Austin started at center and played 16 minutes, scoring five points and grabbing eight rebounds. Hines-Allen played six minutes and had two points.

Coming into the game, both were questionable with non-covid illness. During practice Saturday, Hines-Allen practiced in a limited capacity, but Austin was sent home.

The two are likely to travel with the Mystics for their western road trip, which begins Tuesday in Los Angeles. They visit Seattle on Thursday and Las Vegas on Saturday.

Washington has played 18 games, tied for the most with the Indiana Fever. For the moment, the calendar does not give up.

“It’s called ‘surviving your schedule’ and that’s kind of where we are,” Thibault said.

Instead of traveling with the team to Los Angeles, Delle Donne will fly directly to Seattle for Thursday’s game. She said she would use the extra time in Seattle to decompress and prepare for the game.

“I’ll be with my trainer for those days,” she said. “He flies away with me. [I’ll] just be there early. . . get ready and continue my process in Seattle.