Sykes’ return helps Mystics to 1st win of season

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Jun 11, 2024, 10:30 PM ET

COLLEGE PARK, Ga. — Brittney Sykes scored 18 points in her first game since May 17, Ariel Atkins also had 18 and the Washington Mystics won their first game of the season, beating the Atlanta Dream 87-68 on Tuesday night.

Washington (1-12) avoided tying the longest losing streak in franchise history with the 2012 team dropping 13 games in a row. The Mystics’ 19-point win is the third largest to snap a double-digit losing streak in WNBA history.

“The feel is it’s been coming,” coach Eric Thibault said. “I said the other night that we’re turning into a good basketball team and we just haven’t had the wins to show for it yet. We’ve been playing better basketball now for a while.

“We’re obviously shooting well, but I think the quality of the shots we’re getting is really good.”

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Sykes, who had missed the past 10 games due to an ankle injury, went 4-of-6 from 3-point range in just 14 minutes, and Atkins made all three of her attempts from distance. The Mystics made a season-high 17 3-pointers, with a make from eight players. Their 17 made 3s were their second most in a game in franchise history and one shy of the WNBA single-game record.

Sykes appeared to tweak her left foot — the same with the high ankle sprain — early in the fourth quarter after an awkward step. Thibault said the team wasn’t overly concerned and that they would evaluate the injury further upon their return to D.C.

Sykes did not meet with the media postgame as she was with the team trainer. She was seen going down a hallway on crutches, but the Mystics said they were precautionary.

Thibault said the team felt Sykes’ impact right away Tuesday on “both ends of the floor.”

“You see it in the open court,” he said. “It’s not something where there’s a lot of it around the league. We were able to throw it ahead to her a couple of times and let her attack. There’s just an aggressiveness to her game that’s a great trait to have on our team.”

40331116Led by the return of Brittney Sykes, the Mystics got their first win behind a season-high 17 3-pointers, their second most in a game in franchise history and one shy of the WNBA single-game record. Rich von Biberstein/Icon Sportswire

Washington had seven 3-pointers in the first quarter, on just 11 attempts, to take a 25-15 lead. But the Mystics were just 1-of-6 from distance in the second quarter as Atlanta got within 38-33 at the break after closing on an 8-1 run.

Sykes, Karlie Samuelson and Stefanie Dolson each made a 3-pointer in the opening three minutes of the third quarter to make it 49-38, and Washington led by at least nine the rest of the way.

“There’s a great quote I saw a few days ago: ‘Winners celebrate and losers explain,'” Thibault said. “So I’m glad I don’t have to explain — I’m glad we get to celebrate for at least one night.”

Julie Vanloo added 11 points off the bench for Washington.

Rhyne Howard scored 16 points, Aerial Powers added 13 and Tina Charles contributed 12 points and nine rebounds for Atlanta (5-5). Allisha Gray, averaging a team-high 16 points per game, was held to nine on 3-of-10 shooting.

Howard, at 24 years, 43 days, became the youngest player in WNBA history to reach 200 career 3-pointers.

ESPN Stats & Information and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Written by: Ag Entertainment

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