Mystics off to strong start; Storm spoil Ionescu's WNBA debut


Posted at Jul 26 2020 10:47 AM

Mystics off to strong start; Storm spoil Ionescu's WNBA debut 1
The WNBA season tipped off at the IMG Academy in Florida. Photo courtesy of the WNBA on Twitter (@WNBA).

The Washington Mystics opened their title defense on a spectacular note, routing the Indiana Fever 101-76 at the at IMG Academy in Bradenton, Florida, where the entire WNBA season will be held in a "bubble."

The Mystics were playing without their best players, including two-time Most Valuable Player Elena Delle Donne, but were never seriously threatened after limiting the Fever to just nine points in the second quarter.

Myisha Hines-Allen carried the load on offense, scoring a career-best 27 points after making 11 of her 17 attempts. Emma Meesseman, last year's Finals MVP, added 14 points while Aerial Powers had 16.

The Mystics were also playing without Natasha Cloud, who decided to sit out the season to focus on social justice reform, while center Tina Charles was granted a medical exemption. 

Kelsey Mitchell led Indiana with 25 points.

In the first game of the WNBA season, the Seattle Storm welcomed back its two All-Stars in Breanna Stewart and Sue Bird, and spoiled the debut of No. 1 overall pick Sabrina Ionescu in an 87-71 rout of the New York Liberty.

Stewart was forced to miss the 2019 WNBA season due to an Achilles injury, while Bird sat out due to a knee injury of her own. 

The pair shone in their return, with Stewart putting up 18 points and 8 rebounds, while Bird had 11 points and 5 assists. 

Ionescu, the Oregon star who became the first player in NCAA history to notch 2,000 points, 1,000 rebounds, and 1,000 assists in her career, was limited in her first WNBA game. She had 12 points, 6 rebounds, and 4 assists, but shot only 4-of-17 from the field and missed all of her eight three-pointers.

Meanwhile, the Los Angeles Sparks crushed the Phoenix Mercury, 99-75, behind a superb outing from Nneka Ogwumike.

The former MVP scored 21 points, making all eight of her field goals including two three-pointers. Seimone Augustus, who signed with the Sparks in the offseason from the Minnesota Lynx, had 14 points on 6-of-6 shooting in her debut for Los Angeles.

Diana Taurasi had 16 points for Phoenix, while Skylar Diggins-Smith added 14 points and 6 assists. 

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