Delle Donne, Atkins lead Washington past Connecticut in Game 1
Elena Delle Donne led Washington with a 22-point, 10 rebound, five assist effort. Ariel Atkins had a big game as well with 21 points, five rebounds and three steals. The Mystics saw five of their players score in double-figures on the night.
Courtney Williams led the way for the Sun with 26 points, knocking down six of her nine three point attempts. Alyssa Thomas did everything she possibly could on her way to a 20-point night. Four of their five starters scored in double figures, the lone exception being Jasmine Thomas who shot just three-of-14 from the floor.
Defense: This is how the Sun statyed in this game, they forced turnovers and bad offensive possessions from the Mystics almost on cue. When they most needed it they got stops to avoid several knockout punches in the third quarter. Alyssa Thomas was the catalyst more often than not, locking down her own player and frequently helping out to trap or bother another ball handlers. The problem for the Sun on the defensive end is that they only have one Alyssa Thomas, several other players on the floor truly struggled to get stops in one on one situations. Having to send a double against a team that moves the ball as well as Washington is asking a lot.
Washington had stretches of great defense and just as many possessions that were inexcusable on that end of the floor. Still, they were able to get stops when it mattered most during that key stretch in the fourth quarter. Atkins and Cloud were outstanding on the perimeter and for a brief stretch, LaToya Sanders was literally tasked with guarding Jasmine Thomas in the second half. The challenge for Washington is not to get complacent and let those lulls happen on that end of the floor.
Atkins. The second year guard played beyond her years in this contest. She set the tone offensively in the opening minutes, then later hit big shots and grabbed a couple of key offensive rebounds when her team needed her most. As LaToya Sanders stated after the game, Ariel isn't someone who has plays called for her regularly due to the type of offensive players Washington can put on the floor at any time. Which makes this performance that much more impressive, especially in the opening game of the Finals.
Maturity. That was the difference int his one as the Sun at times looked like Washington did last season during their first Finals. There were a few rushed possessions by Connecticut down the stretch when they could have took their time, however there is still time to learn from that.
Shouldering the Load. Alyssa Thomas was outstanding in this contest, she showed off her all-around game with a 20-point, six rebounds, six assists, and five steals. She single handedly kept her team in it at times, especially during the third quarter.
Adjustments. One of the things mentioned by Connecticut coach Curt Miller was how good of a screening team that Washington is. That presented several challenges for his group as the Sparks were very poor in that regard, which led to the Sun defense holding up much better.
Washington has to take care of the ball better, so many of Connecticut's points came in transition. They also have to maintain their defensive intensity for longer stretches, it definitely cost them at points in this one.
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