The Washington Mystics opened their new arena with a renewed commitment to the defensive end, they used that edge to protect their new home. Washington beat Atlanta 96-75 in the Entertainment and Sports Arena last night.
Ariel Atkins (Pictured Above) led all scorers with 21 points, Elena Delle Donne had 18 points, including the very first basket scored in the new facility. Emma Meesseman had 14 points and Kristi Toliver and Shatori Walker-Kimbrough had 10 points a piece. The Mystics got huge contributions from their bench as well, they scored a combined 41 points from that group.
It was close to a full complement of players for Washington as they're only missing Aerial Powers and Kiara Leslie who are out with injuries.
As for the Dream, it was a rough 48 hours. Playing in a back-to-back they got routed at home the night prior by the Seattle Storm and then ran out of the ESA early in this one.
Tiffany Hayes and Alex Bentley led Atlanta with 11 points a piece.
From the opening tip, the Mystics made sure the Dream felt them. The ball pressure was high as Atlanta ball handlers couldn't create separation even with screens being set. Delle Donne opened things up with a mid-range clinic and Washington raced out to a 10 point lead after one.
Meesseman sparked a 7-0 run to start the quarter, capped by Natasha Cloud picking off a pass at half court like a center field roaming safety. She then found Tianna Hawkins in the corner for a triple, that forced a timeout from the Dream.
Washington got contributions from everyone in the first half, the bench had 29. All four players that entered the game scored at least one basket, the Dream would make a late run to close the half. However, Elena Delle Donne hit a runner as the shot clock expired to extend the lead back to 17.
Washington didn't give in to complacency as Atkins had a 12 point third quarter to push the lead to 30 by the end of the period. The defense continued and then the three pointers started falling.
Atlanta made up a little ground but Washington opened their new home with a 21 point win.
Washington's next game is Wednesday when the Chicago Sky come to town.