WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. (AP) — When Elena Delle Donne gets going early, it makes the Washington Mystics’ offense flow so much better.
The All-Star captain had 15 of her 30 points in the opening period to help Washington beat the New York Liberty 95-78 on Saturday.
“It definitely helps the spread the floor better when I’m hitting shots,” said Delle Donne, who also had 10 rebounds.
She hit all six of her shots in the opening period, including three 3-pointers — most of them just swishing through the net.
The Mystics won for only the second time in their past six games and sit in a three-way tie for fourth in the league.
“Every game matter so much,” Delle Donne said. “It’s going to be a sprint to the finish.”
Washington (14-10) led by eight at the half, and Delle Donne and Kristi Toliver combined for 20 points of the team’s 32 points in the third quarter to extend the advantage to 75-53. Toliver finished with 19 points and eight assists.
New York (7-17) tried to get back in the game behind rookie Kia Nurse, who had eight straight points during one stretch to get the Liberty within 11. But that’s as close as they could come.
“Excellent effort in the fourth quarter by all who came in,” Liberty coach Katie Smith said. ”. Maybe we can bottle that up and get four quarters of that.”
New York is all but assured of missing the playoffs this season after making the postseason the past three years.
“It’s going to be rough to try to get in,” Smith said. “But I think for us, it’s going out every night and being proud of what we did that night and proud of how we played, proud of our effort. It’s tough to win in this league anyways.”
Tina Charles scored 22 points, including her 3,000th in New York. Sugar Rodgers added 16 for the Liberty.
SWATTING AWAY THE RECORD BOOK:
Kiah Stokes tied the franchise record for career blocks, equaling the mark of 155 set by Sue Wicks of 155.
Mystics: Natasha Cloud is still out with a concussion. Coach Mike Thibault hopes to have her back soon.
Liberty: Epiphanny Prince (left eye) and Shavonte Zellous (right ankle) missed the game because of injuries they suffered in a loss to Atlanta.
Mystics: Visit Connecticut on Tuesday in their last game before the All-Star break.
Liberty: Visit Minnesota on Tuesday in their last game before the All-Star break.
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