WASHINGTON – Shooting 50 percent from the field for the game and taking an 18-point first-quarter lead are typically failproof methods to win a basketball game. But not on Sunday for the Lynx.
The Washington Mystics had the lead by halftime and closed the game with a 19-5 run to beat the Lynx 90-78 at Capital One Arena. Only one other time in franchise history have the Lynx blown a bigger lead. That was in their inaugural season in 1999, when they lost to the Los Angeles Sparks in double overtime after being up by 19.
Washington, which is 4-0 for the first time in franchise history, did most of its damage without star player Elena Delle Donne, who left for the locker room after playing only 13 minutes because of dehydration. She did not return.
No matter. The Mystics got 58 points from their reserves, including 15 from Myisha Hines-Allen on 7-for-8 shooting. The 2018 second-round draft pick also had 13 rebounds — seven on the offensive end — for her first WNBA double-double.
Washington entered the game ranked second in the league in bench scoring.
“Their bench was amazing,” Lynx center Sylvia Fowles said. “They came in and gave them that run that they needed. They brought that energy, they came out [and] they knocked down shots, they got rebounds, they ran the floor. Their bench was who got them back in the game.”
Hines-Allen, a 6-2, 200-pound forward, recorded 45 double-doubles in four years at Louisville.
“We’re starting to call Myisha Draymond Green,” Washington coach Mike Thibault joked. “She wants to handle the ball, she wants to shoot jumpers — but she’s so physical and she has great fundamental technique.”
Maya Moore led the Lynx (2-2) with 18 points. Fowles had 17 points but just eight rebounds, well below her season average of 14.3. Tanisha Wright was the only other Lynx player in double figures, with 10 points.
The Lynx, who had beaten Washington seven consecutive meetings, sprinted to a 26-11 first-quarter lead primarily on the strength of Fowles’ mismatch against Krystal Thomas. Washington made only four of 16 field-goal attempts in the period, and Delle Donne shot only 2-for-6.
Last season, that start would have spelled the end for the Mystics. This year, Thibault subbed Thomas out and went smaller with Natasha Cloud, Ariel Atkins and Tiana Hawkins on the floor alongside starters Delle Donne and Kristi Toliver. Then, at the start of the second quarter, the second unit went on a 24-4 tear that put Washington up 35-32. The Mystics outscored Minnesota 35-13 in the second quarter and led 46-39 at halftime.
The Lynx rallied in the second half but took their last lead at 73-71 in the fourth quarter.
Toliver led all scorers with 19 points and had five of her team’s 15 three-pointers. The Lynx made only six threes and no one had more than two.
Atkins, Washington’s first-round draft pick out of Texas, had 14 points and played sharp defense on Moore. Cloud had 14 points and eight assists.
Fowles was 8-for-8 from the field. That’s the second-most made field goals in a game without a miss in Lynx history behind Seimone Augustus, who had an 11-for-11 performance. Rebekkah Brunson scored her 4,000th career point.