Sunday, August 14

Mystics beat WNBA-best Aces in overtime


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LAS VEGAS — The Washington Mystics’ offense caught fire Saturday night en route to an overtime victory. Afterward, something in the building did, too.

The Mystics needed five extra minutes to walk away with an 87-86 win over the WNBA-best Las Vegas Aces. After finally getting the offense together following an ugly few weeks, the Mystics didn’t get to talk about it with reporters — instead, they were ordered to leave the building because of a fire. Smoke could be smelled in the air, and there was haze over the court at Michelob Ultra Arena.

The Mystics (12-9) played loose for most of the night, and there were signs that would be the case. Shortly before the game, Natasha Cloud got in a three-point stance, took a basketball and snapped it between her legs to hit Elena Delle Donne right in the hands. The two-time MVP then knocked down a three-pointer.

This didn’t look like a team that had lost two in a row and three of four, one with an offense that was sputtering entering the final matchup of a challenging three-game road trip.

Cloud had worried about complacency setting in after the morning shoot-around and stressed the need for urgency against the Aces (13-4), but pregame the Mystics appeared not to have a care in the world. And then they put together their best offensive performance in nearly two weeks, shooting 47.1 percent. There was flow as the ball moved crisply and the players were decisive, and most importantly they knocked down shots.

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Delle Donne finished with 19 points, 10 rebounds and five blocks. The rebounds and blocks were season highs, and she became the second player in franchise history (joining Emma Meesseman) to notch at least 15 points, 10 rebounds and five blocks.

Alysha Clark set a season high in points (20) and matched her best in rebounds (eight) while going 4 for 6 from behind the arc. Cloud posted 16 points and 10 assists to extend her streak of five-plus assists to 23 games, the third-longest stretch in WNBA history. Ariel Atkins added 15 points, five rebounds, four assists and three steals.

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The Mystics took the lead in the second quarter and never trailed again. But the game was tight throughout, and the Aces tied the score multiple times. Back-to-back fourth-quarter baskets by Myisha Hines-Allen Washington a 71-65 lead, but then the Mystics’ turnover struggles returned. They gave the ball away six times down the stretch, finishing with 20 for the game, and the Aces’ Jackie Young buried a step-back three-pointer with 7.7 seconds left to force overtime.

Washington opened overtime with a 7-3 run, including a tough fadeaway by Atkins for an 84-80 lead with 2:38 remaining. Cloud hit five free throws to seal the win; A’ja Wilson made a three-pointer as time expired to set the final score.

Kelsey Plum and Young scored 20 points a piece for the Aces, and Wilson chipped in 17 points and 14 rebounds. The top offense in the WNBA shot just 38.3 percent; half of the Aces’ losses have come against the Mystics, who host Atlanta on Tuesday.

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