- The Washington Times - Sunday, June 9, 2019

Elena Delle Donne was furious. Upset with a series of non-calls all afternoon, the Mystics star charged toward the referee in the third quarter — screaming in the official’s face until he blew the whistle and called a technical.

It was an uncharacteristic moment for Delle Donne, but she felt like she needed to be heard as a way to get control of the game.

Don’t, however, bother asking her exactly what was said.

“I don’t think I can repeat what I said to the ref,” said Delle Donne, who said she thinks that was her first technical. “Children might read the article and that’s not appropriate.”

Delle Donne regained her composure and the Mystics earned an 86-62 victory Sunday over the Dallas Wings. The Mystics now have won four in a row after losing their season-opener in Connecticut.

This wasn’t the sharpest performance from the Mystics (4-1). Despite the lopsided final score, Washington was sluggish to begin the game — shooting only 33% in the first quarter. As a result, Dallas (0-4) led 20-15.

But things turned for Washington in the second, thanks to a productive second unit. Washington was missing a key piece from its bench in forward Emma Meesseman, a former All-Star who is away from the team for a month while she competes with the Belgian National team. Others, though, stepped up.

Forward Tianna Hawkins scored a career-high 21 off the bench — leading all scorers — while forward Aerial Powers had 18. The bench helped the Mystics take the lead in the second and Washington got back to its usual high-energy pace that resulted in a WNBA FInals appearance last season.

“You have nights when teams try to take out your best players,” Mystics coach Mike Thibault said. “They doubled Elena almost the entire night and we found other people. … The balance is what’s going to keep going for us.

“That was some ugly basketball for a while, but after the first quarter, we held them to 42 points the rest of the way. That’s pretty good defense, despite some mistakes.”

Thibault said Hawkins did a good job of spacing the floor, adding her two best strengths are making 3-pointers and grabbing offensive boards. Against Dallas, Hawkins did both of those. The 28-year-old, in her fifth season with the Mystics, shot 60% from deep and three of her six rebounds were on the offensive end.

Hawkins said she and her teammates had to “buckle down” against Dallas’ physicality. Hawkins, too, prides herself as being the leader of Washington’s second-year unit. “I try to get them going every single game,” she said.

The Mystics went into halftime with a 40-34 lead and dominated the second half. They pulled away in the fourth, outscoring the Wings 30-16.

Delle Donne, who had 14 points, nine rebounds and four assists, said she thought her outburst helped reset the game because “emotions were flying high.”

The Mystics have a rematch Tuesday with the Connecticut Sun, the team that beat them 84-69 in the season-opener, a game that Delle Donne missed because of a knee injury.

Don’t look for a let-down, Thibault said. “They’re trying to build something special,” Thibault said. “And when you have that feeling every day and your teammates are pushing each other, then you’re not going to be complacent.”

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