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Recaps: Tina Charles continues spectacular season with 30-15 game as Mystics pull away late

Tina Charles recorded the 26th 30-15 game in WNBA history as the Washington Mystics defeated the Indiana Fever. Plus, Courtney Vandersloot and Marina Mabrey were phenomenal for the Chicago Sky and Dallas Wings, respectively.

Indiana Fever v Washington Mystics
Tina Charles
Photo by Ned Dishman/NBAE via Getty Images

When Tina Charles doesn’t have a 20-point game this season, which has only happened three times, we think ‘ok maybe she’s cooled off.’

But now that she recorded her fifth 30-point game during Saturday night’s Mystics win at the Entertainment and Sports Arena in Washington, D.C., maybe it should be clear that she is too big a focal point of the Mystics offense (until Elena Delle Donne returns) and in too good of a groove to slow down.

And maybe Charles, who finished with 30 points, 15 rebounds and three steals, really should be considered the MVP frontrunner ahead of Jonquel Jones and Breanna Stewart, as long as the Mystics (6-6) keep up their winning ways. She’d be winning the award nine years apart from her first and after a 2019 season where her stats fell off and a 2020 season where she sat out with a medical exemption.

At 24.5 points per game, Charles is currently averaging 7.6 more than she did in 2019 and would have the second-best scoring average in WNBA history if the season ended today. She trails only Diana Taurasi’s 25.3 points per game in 2006.

The final score from Saturday was Mystics 82, Fever 77. Washington trailed by six after one, by two 38 seconds into the fourth and by one as late as 4:04 into the fourth.

It took another gutsy performance like the one from their three-point win over Atlanta on Thursday to close out the game and win by five.

Ariel Atkins (16 points) made a layup with 5:30 to play that gave the Mystics the lead for good. Theresa Plaisance (16 points, 12 rebounds, four assists) followed with a triple one minute and 30 seconds later that gave them some breathing room.

A Teaira McCowan layup cut Indiana’s deficit to two, but the Fever would get no closer. The Mystics answered with five-straight points, including a Charles 3-point play.

A Jessica Breland trey with 55 seconds left brought Indiana within four, but that’s as close as it would get in the final minute.

Danielle Robinson notched 19 points and six assists in defeat while Tiffany Mitchell added 18 points for the Fever (1-14).

Other action

Chicago Sky (7-7) over Connecticut Sun (8-5), 91-81

Courtney Vandersloot recorded her third points-assists double-double in a row and her fifth of the season with 18 points and 11 helpers in a back-and-forth affair.

Chicago is on a five-game winning streak with two wins in a row coming against Connecticut.

The Sky broke a 76-76 tie with a 13-0 run that put the game away. Ruthy Hebard (13 points, four steals) started the run with a layup and Diamond DeShields (14 points) followed with a 3-pointer from the left corner. With the Chicago crowd behind the team, Candace Parker then hit a mid-range shot and afterwards Vandersloot took a step inside the 3-point arc and buried a deep two.

Fifteen seconds later, the one-sided run was in jeopardy of ending, but DeShields blocked a layup attempt by Brionna Jones, who was a thorn in the Sky’s side throughout the game with a career-high 22 points and eight boards. Two free throws apiece from DeShields and Dana Evans pushed Chicago’s lead to 13 with 28.8 seconds left.

Connecticut won the first 21-12 before the Sky won the second 28-13. The Sun came back to lead by as many as seven in the third, but Chicago led by three entering the fourth. Allie Quigley (13 points) then opened the final frame with a 5-0 individual run that put the Sky up eight before a 12-4 Connecticut run brought the score to 76-76.

“I just like that fact that we grinded it out,” said Sky coach James Wade. “We withstood a lot of their runs and we were able to respond back with just holding them off. And I don’t know if we were capable of doing that two weeks ago, two and a half weeks ago. To win a game like this where they were a little bit more motivated, they made adjustments, I think that says a lot about our team. Now it’s just about keeping that consistent energy there and continuing to fight through any adversities that we may have.”

DeWanna Bonner had 17 points, eight rebounds and six assists in defeat while Briann January added 12 points and six helpers for the Sun.

Azurá Stevens tossed in 11 points for the winners and teammate Kahleah Copper was good for eight points and nine boards.

Dallas Wings (6-7) over Minnesota Lynx (5-7), 95-77

Marina Mabrey went from zero points in Dallas’ loss to the Lynx on Thursday to a career-high 28 on Saturday. She was 0-of-8 from the field on Thursday and 9-of-13 on Saturday with five of the Wings’ franchise-record 17 threes.

“I’m not gonna stop because a couple minutes of basketball didn't go well for me,” Mabrey said. “I’ve been playing this game too long to give up because somebody held me scoreless one time. I’m only a couple years in, so, I didn't expect this to be smooth sailing straight to the top.”

“She’s just a tough kid,” Wings coach Vickie Johnson said of Mabrey. “She’s very competitive, she’s from Jersey, nothing’s gonna really hold her back. I’m very proud of her. I tried to talk to her today, she was like ‘Coach, I got it.’ ... She’s one of our leaders. When she’s shooting the basketball like that, we’re going to be very hard to beat.”

Mabrey is averaging 16.5 points per game and has a chance to make her first All-Star game in her third season.

“There’s personal goals and there’s team goals,” Mabrey said. “And the teams goals obviously come before the personal goals. I want to be a part of a team that goes to the playoffs and makes a run and wins the playoffs. So that's like my first thing. And getting better individually was gonna help our team do that. And then obviously throughout my career, I’d love to reach most improved, All-Star. But I just started, I’m just scratching the surface. I’m just gonna keep working as hard as I can and wherever that takes me that takes me.”

Arike Ogunbowale added 16 points and six assists for Dallas, which was up 29-14 after one. The Wings, who also received 13 points from Tyasha Harris, led by as many as 25 in the second before a Rachel Banham half-court shot at the buzzer of the frame cut it to 20 at the break.

Minnesota cut its deficit to 12 six different times in the third, but would get no closer in the second half.

Napheesa Collier (six rebounds) and Crystal Dangerfield both had 17 points in defeat.