The Washington Mystics firmly stood their ground against the WNBA’s newest super team to begin the 2023 season.
Meanwhile, the Connecticut Sun avoided a fourth-quarter collapse to spoil the debut of the league’s No. 1 overall pick.
Both squads will aim to build on Friday’s season-opening wins when the Mystics and Sun meet on Sunday in Uncasville, Conn.
Washington glided past the visiting New York Liberty 80-64 on Friday night behind a stout defensive display against a team many consider a title favorite.
The Mystics stifled former MVPs Breanna Stewart and Jonquel Jones, both of whom the Liberty acquired in the offseason, to a combined 17 points on 5-for-16 (31.3 percent) shooting.
Washington also forced four of New York’s 22 turnovers from newly acquired Courtney Vandersloot, the league’s all-time assists average leader, and held returning star Sabrina Ionescu to 18 points on a dreary 7-for-20 (35 percent) mark in the statement win.
Cloud and Ariel Atkins scored 14 points apiece to lead Washington, while Elena Delle Donne added 13 to begin what she hopes is her healthiest season in four years. Back injuries have limited Delle Donne to just 31 games since her MVP campaign during the Mystics’ 2019 championship run.
The Sun used a balanced scoring output from their core of DeWanna Bonner (19 points), Alyssa Thomas (18) and Brionna Jones (13) to hold off top pick Aliyah Boston and the Indiana Fever 70-61 on Friday in Indianapolis.
Connecticut never trailed en route to building a 19-point lead in the third quarter before the Fever surged back in the game’s closing minutes.
Boston’s layup trimmed the Sun’s lead to three with 2:25 remaining, but Thomas scored six straight points for her team down the stretch to lock up a win in head coach Stephanie White’s Sun debut.
Boston finished with 15 points on 6-of-10 shooting.
The Sun went 2-1 against the Mystics in last season’s matchups, all of which were won by the home team.