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May 28, 2024 2:14 pm

Mystics hunting elusive first win vs. Dream

Rhyne Howard

The Washington Mystics have struggled to score amid their worst start in 17 years entering Wednesday’s home game against the Atlanta Dream.

Washington ranks last in the WNBA entering Tuesday’s action in points per game (74.3) and field-goal percentage (40.1 percent). The Mystics remain the league’s only winless team and are 0-6 for the first time since they started 0-8 in 2007.

Finishing near the hoop has been especially problematic for Washington. The Mystics have made just 53 percent of their shots less than 5 feet from the rim, the league’s lowest mark entering Tuesday.

“Probably each game, (if) we make a few relatively easy layups, we’re in the mid-80s instead of high 70s,” Washington coach Eric Thibault said, per The Washington Post. “And we’ve defended well enough that if we get in the mid-80s, we’ve got a good chance to win the game.”

The Mystics were competitive in each of their first five games, none of which they lost by more than nine points. That changed on Saturday when Washington was throttled 101-69 on the road by the Seattle Storm. The teams played a game earlier this month decided by nine points.

Ariel Atkins, the Mystics’ leading scorer (12.3 points per game), missed all 12 of her field goals and finished with two points against Seattle. Starters Karlie Samuelson and Julie Vanloo supplied 16 and 12 points, respectively. Jade Melbourne had 13 points off the bench.

Washington faces Atlanta (2-2) for the first time this season after the Dream fell 92-79 to the visiting Minnesota Lynx on Sunday.

Rhyne Howard scored 23 points for Atlanta to boost her team-leading scoring average to 21.0 per game, while Cheyenne Parker-Tyus bundled 10 points with eight boards.

Third-year Dream coach Tanisha Wright loathed Atlanta’s ball-screen defense on Sunday and said her team has not reached the level of connectivity that other teams have displayed this season.

“It’s just a focus to continue to come in and clean up things and continue to get better at every opportunity,” Wright said.

The Dream have oscillated between wins and losses over their first four games, but the team’s ball security has been better than ever under Wright.

Atlanta is averaging 12.8 turnovers per game in 2024, the second fewest in the league. The Dream committed more than 14 giveaways per game in both of Wright’s first two seasons as head coach.

–Field Level Media

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