(Image courtesy of Washington Mystics twitter)
Even the biggest Mystics fans would have conceded that without starters Natasha Cloud and Myisha Hines-Allen, key bench players Erica McCall and Kiara Leslie, and perpetual MVP-contender Elena Delle Donne, beating a healthy Storm team (and their three newly named Olympians) was a tall task.
But the scrappy, never-say-die, our-hearts-are-bigger-than-your-hearts Mystics, who had three Olympians of their own on the floor, must not have gotten the memo.
With career games from All-World Tina Charles (my designation, not official) and HDMH and transcendent floor-leader Leilani Mitchell, the Mystics beat the Storm 87-83.
The Mystics made 16 3-pointers to the Storm’s eight. They also outrebounded the Storm 39-36, and led on team assists 25-21. Both teams had only 7 turnovers, making this game one of the most beautiful and well-played games we’ve seen in this still-young WNBA season.
Tina Charles had 34 points, 16 rebounds, 5 assists, and 2 steals. She is the only WNBA player to ever have 30+ points and 15+ rebounds in back to back games. She had 17 points at the half and every time the Storm appeared to be on the brink of opening up a lead, Charles stepped up with a defensive stop, a powerful rebound, or a basket.
Tina Charles’ 34 PTS/16 REB tonight gives her 4 career reg. season games with 30+ PTS/15+ REB. That ties Lauren Jackson for 1st all-time:— Across the Timeline (@WBBTimeline) June 23, 2021
1. Lauren Jackson: 4
Tina Charles: 4
3. Sylvia Fowles: 3
Lisa Leslie: 3
Tina is the only player to have back-to-back 30/15 games.
In a return to her home state, Mitchell had 7 assists and hit 5 from deep on the way to 19 points, the final two of those points coming on a pair of made free throws with 4.3 seconds left in the game to give the Mystics a 4 point advantage and seal the win.
Theresa Plaisance and Ariel Atkins had 10 points a piece and made baskets when it mattered the most. Plaisance also had 9 rebounds and 2 blocks. Atkins had 6 assists. Both Plaisance and Atkins played 36 out of a possible 40 minutes in the game.
For Seattle, their big three all lived up to the Olympic-sized expectations. Sue Bird had 7 points, 8 rebounds, and 7 assists. Jewell Loyd had 9 assists and 23 points, making her 3,000th career point during the game.
Reigning Western Conference Player of the Week Breanna Stewart had 8 rebounds, an absurd 5 blocks, and 17 points. But when Stewart had the ball in her hands and a chance to tie the game with just 10 seconds left, Tina Charles played straight up defense and Stewart missed the shot. Charles grabbed the rebound, passed the ball to Leilani Mitchell, and Seattle could do nothing but foul her and hope she missed her shots.
Instead, the Mystics are leaving Washington State not only with an exhilarating win but also with the knowledge that they can beat any team in this league, even when playing shorthanded.
Click here for more WNBA coverage from Venus Sports.
For more on the WNBA from Hannah, check her out here or follow her on twitter.