Coming into this season, the expectations for the Washington Mystics around the association were relatively low. Many people had them struggling out of the gate given that they were missing Elizabeth Williams and Alysha Clark to start the year. Despite that, the Mystics have proved all doubters wrong, jumping out to a league best 3-0 record, all three being impressive wins without key players.
After the Mystics comeback win on Tuesday against the Las Vegas Aces, Mystics guard Natasha Cloud expressed her excitement about the victory despite being away from the team in health and safety protocols.
So incredibly proud of my squad. Culture truly makes a difference— Natasha Cloud (@T_Cloud4) May 11, 2022
The Aces led by as much as 15 and had a 13-point lead at halftime thanks to 57.6 percent shooting from the field while also dominating the glass. Kelsey Plum and Jackie Young were dazzling for the Aces, posting 14 points apiece.
However, in the third quarter, the Mystics outscored Las Vegas 24-7. Mystics rookie Rui Machida had an electric quarter, leading several transition breakaways that helped Washington slowly chip away at the lead. Myisha Hines-Allen in just under 30 minutes of play had 15 points, eight rebounds, and eight assists on 6-of-13 shooting in 89-76 victory.
Katie Benzan also had a phenomenal night in just her second game for the team. The Maryland alum scored 12 points in just 15 minutes of play, knocking down three threes. In 2020-21, she led the NCAA in three-point percentage with 50 percent shooting from beyond the arc.
Kati3⃣ B3⃣nzan@katiekbenz was 3/4 from beyond the arc and ended the night with 12 points #Mystics25 // #TogetherDC pic.twitter.com/w7F08UR8Ji— Washington Mystics (@WashMystics) May 11, 2022
This was a game symbolized by determination and grit for the Mystics as early in the first quarter, Mystics forward Ariel Atkins went down with an apparent lower back injury that briefly sent her to the locker room. She later responded in a big way, scoring 13 points and draining three timely threes in the comeback effort.
Sunday’s matchup against the Minnesota Lynx also ended in convincing fashion for the Mystics. In a matchup with the 2017 MVP Sylvia Fowles, Mystics rookie Shakira Austin held her own, and finished with a double-double in what was an impressive two-way performance for the young prospect. Austin held Fowles to only 13 points on 5-of-12 (41.7 percent) shooting in a 78-66 Mystics victory. Starting in place of two-time MVP Elena Delle Donne, Austin had 13 points and 10 rebounds, while teammate Cloud put on a shooting clinic, knocking down four threes and scoring 19 points in the first half.
Natasha Cloud at the half:— WSLAM (@wslam) May 9, 2022
➡️ 19 points
➡️ 7-10 FG
➡️ 4 made threes
TUFF. @T_Cloud4 (via @WashMystics)
Atkins also had 20 points and five assists and Hines-Allen added 11 points and eight rebounds.
Great team defense has been the mantra for the Mystics this season and so far the results have been tremendous. The Lynx shot just 22.6 percent (7-of-31) in the first half, which helped Washington go on a 21-4 run in the second quarter.
Riding the best record in the league, the Mystics have turned plenty of heads so far this season and if there was any doubt that this team was serious contenders, the doubters have been put to rest.
In the postgame interview after the win against the Las Vegas, Hines-Allen talked about the level of confidence the team is playing with right now that should make every Mystics fan excited.
“We still have pieces that need to come in,” Hines-Allen said. “I feel like once that happens, the sky is the limit for us. It gives us a lot of confidence just knowing that our whole team isn’t here yet, but we are still playing great basketball, Mystics basketball.”