– by Adesina O. Koiki
A Lot of Sports Talk editor-in-chief
WASHINGTON — Seeing a 23-point lead whittled down to a single bucket with 90 seconds remaining, Washington Mystics guard Kristi Toliver, the person responsible for Washington’s biggest cushion of the night, made sure her last dagger from beyond the arc was enough to see off the victory.
Toliver knocked down a three-pointer with 1:05 remaining, the last of her 25 points, while Elena Delle Donne led all scorers with 33 points as the Mystics defeated the Phoenix Mercury 99-93 at the Entertainment & Sports Arena on Tuesday night.
Mercury guard Leilani Mitchell tied a WNBA record with eight 3-pointers made, and her final three cut Washington’s lead to 95-93 with 1:21 remaining. On then next possession, Toliver, who also shares the league record with most threes made in a game, answered from beyond the arc for the Mystics, who made a couple of defensive stops afterward to seal the victory.
Delle Donne scored 15 of her points in the third quarter, a frame which saw Washington build its biggest lead at 68-45 after Toliver hit a step-back three just in front of the Mercury bench with 4:16 remaining. Toliver also made a three with 2.9 seconds remaining in the third to give the Mystics a 17-point edge, 78-61, to begin the final stanza.
Phoenix came out smoking to begin the fourth quarter, making eight of its first nine shots from the field and scoring 21 points in the first 4:56. Mitchell hit four of her eight threes in the quarter, with her second one cutting Phoenix’s deficit to 87-82 and forcing a Mystics timeout.
Washington answered every run by the Mercury in a game that it ended up never trailing, with Delle Donne scoring on a short jumper right out of the timeout for the Mystics. Both teams cooled off form the field for a couple of minutes before the Mercury made their final charge behind Mitchell and DeWanna Bonner, who scored 10 of her 25 points in the game’s final 10 minutes. Bonner’s conventional three-point play at the 3:44 mark cut Washington’s lead to 89-85.
Brittney Griner had 30 points and nine rebounds for the Mercury, who saw their three-game winning streak snapped. Washington has now won four in a row, and after a game in Seattle on Friday, the Mystics and Mercury will square off once again in Phoenix on Sunday.
*Editor’s note: Above the byline is the photo gallery from Tuesday evening’s game, with all photos taken by DC-area photographer Yusuf Abdullah. After clicking on the first photo to enlarge the picture, make sure to press the left and right arrow buttons to scroll through the rest of the pictures. There are 15 pictures in total.