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Analysis: Hawkins, Powers lead Mystics to 86-62 victory over the Wings

The Washington Mystics improved their record to 4-1 and remain undefeated at home after defeating the Dallas Wings, 86-62. Tianna Hawkins and Aerial Powers scored a combined 39 points off the bench.

Tianna Hawkins scores career-high 21 points off the bench to help the Washington Mystics win their third straight game at home.
Zackery Rogers

The Washington Mystics (4-1) defeated the Dallas Wings (0-4) at home, 86-62, improving their record to 4-1 on the season. Sunday’s win continued the Mystics’ undefeated stint at home, 3-0, in their new arena.

The Entertainment and Sports Arena crowd was electric, but especially during family games, t-shirt launches and the free-throw and defense chants.

Both teams entered the game with the goal to win the battle of the boards and limit the other’s fast-break opportunities. Washington and Dallas finished with 29 rebounds apiece. The Wings’ physicality bothered the Mystics early and Dallas led for a majority of the first half.

At the end of the first quarter, Dallas led Washington 20-15 and held them to 33.3 percent shooting. However, the poor shooting would not last due to Natasha Cloud’s energy. The momentum and energy of her career-high 26 points against the New York Liberty on Friday transferred to Sunday’s win.

Cloud’s effort was contagious and Washington started to gain rhythm on both ends of the floor. After inserting Tianna Hawkins and Aerial Powers into the game, the Mystics were able to space the floor more. The Mystics ended the second quarter leading Dallas 40-34.

Although it was a total team effort for the Mystics, high energy from Cloud and the combined 39 points from Hawkins and Powers off the bench helped push this team in the right direction.

Hawkins dominated on Sunday, scoring a career-high 21 points on 7-of-9 shooting off the bench and led the team in scoring. Powers added 18 points off the bench on 6-of-10 shooting while Elena Delle Donne and Kristi Toliver both scored 14 points. Not only did Powers torch her former team’s defense, she provided energy, effort and physicality for the Mystics all night.

“It’s a matter of running our offense and just knowing where each other is on the floor and just getting the ball to the open person and that person knocking their shots down,” Hawkins said.

In the loss, the Wings played physical basketball against the Mystics all night, providing some opposition in the post. However, the team struggled to generate points in crucial stretches.

Glory Johnson led the Wings in scoring with 15 points (and 9 rebounds) while shooting 7-of-13 from the floor. Imani McGee-Stafford added 10 points off the bench and Isabelle Harrison scored 9 points. Kayla Thornton finished the game with 6 points but made her presence felt on the defensive end by contesting shots, battling on the boards and recording two steals.

Despite the score, this was a hard-fought game.

Three deciding factors in the Mystics’ win, Wings’ loss:

  • bench depth
  • offensive tempo
  • three-point shooting

Washington weathered the early storm from the Wings because of their ability to go eight deep in their rotation. Mystics coach Mike Thibault has the luxury of being able to trust just about his whole roster if need be. In addition to being able to play eight deep in the rotation, he can play three or four guards in the rotation at the same time: Kristi Toliver, Cloud, Powers and Ariel Atkins.

Mystics head coach Mike Thibault has the luxury of playing eight deep into his rotation this season.
Zackery Rogers

Despite a scoreless game from Atkins, the rest of the team was able to fill in and help. Dallas was short-handed after losing Arike Ogunbowale to a possible ankle sprain during the game. The Wings struggled to score in the second half and didn’t get a lot of help from their bench.

Arike Ogunbowale leaves game due to a possible ankle injury.
Zackery Rogers

Another factor affecting the Wings was offensive tempo. When the Wings kept Washington in the half court, they were able to contain them. But when the Mystics started running the fast break, Dallas started to force bad shots on the offensive end by trying to play outside of their offensive strategy.

The last factor that separated the two teams was the three-point shot. Neither team shot exceptionally well, but Washington shot 38.7 percent from three and knocked down 12 compared to the Wings’ shooting 21.4 percent and only sinking three.

Next up for the Mystics

The Mystics will be on the road for their next game, taking on the Connecticut Sun on Tuesday, June 11, at 7 p.m. ET. Watch the game on CBS Sports Network, NESN, Monumental Sports or WNBA League Pass.

Next up for the Wings

The Wings will take on the Indiana Fever at home Thursday, June 13, at 8 p.m. ET. Watch the game on CBS Sports Network.