Having locked up the number one overall seed prior to the regular season finale, the Washington Mystics decided to close things out with a win. Extending a new franchise record for wins with 26. They beat the Chicago Sky Sunday 100-86 by relying on what's gotten them to this point, suffocating defense and outstanding ball movement on the offensive end.
Elena Delle Donne put the finishing touches on her MVP candidacy with a 25 point, 12 rebound and three block performance. The crowd serenaded her with M-V-P chants following the game led by guard Natasha Cloud. Elena was attempting to do a post game interview with the broadcast team's sideline reporter, but was interrupted by the enthusiastic crowd showing their appreciation for the regular season she just had. In addition to breaking history by being the first WNBA player in history to record a 50-40-90 season.
Diamond DeShields led Chicago with 16 points, Allie Quigley and Kahleah Copper scored 13 points a piece. They shot 50% from the floor as a team, but turnovers (14) and the glass hurt them. The rebounding battle was won by Washington 42-29, Chicago gave up 14 offensive rebounds and it's tough to beat Washington or anyone when they're given second chances to score.
The Sky dealt with some adversity in this one, the first was playing a road game in D.C. Dealing with the problems the Mystics present is another, but the biggest may of been when they lost forward Astou Ndour late in the first half. There was a no call on a drive to the basket, the ball went out of bounds and was ruled Washington's ball. Cheyenne Parker reacted to the no call on the bench and was issued a technical foul, then Ndour was ejected for "making contact" with an official. She barely brushed him, but by the letter of the law she was ejected. It definitely was a moment that took some life out of the team, especially as the road team.
Despite the adversity, Chicago clawed back from a 17 point deficit at the start of the second half and cut it down to single digits late in the third period. The Sky outscored the Mystics 24-18. They got back into it by getting stops on the defensive end, once Chicago gets in transition they are deadly. Gabby Williams, Kahleah Copper and Diamond DeShields are special in the open floor. With 54.9 seconds left in the period, the Sky were within six points after a driving layup by Copper.
Washington responded with five quick points in the last 30 seconds to extend the lead back to 11 to start the fourth.
Tianna Hawkins had another one of her big games, scoring 11 of her 24 points in the fourth and 15 of those points in the second half. She also missed out on a double-double by one rebound. Washington's depth has been consistent all season long and this was a solid performance to close the regular season.
The Mystics have a double bye so they won't be playing until the 17th, they won't find out their opponent until later this week. It was a good way to end the regular season, but as Natasha Cloud said after the game, "it's 0-0" from this point on. Washington is just six games away from completing their mantra of "run it back" and the postseason starts now.