Mystics fall to 0-9, set record for worst start in loss to Sun

UNCASVILLE, Connecticut — Éric Thibault has received a lot of phone calls lately. He appreciated the love, support and positive reinforcement as his team lost game after game, but he admitted it became a little too much.

The phone probably won’t stop ringing, at least for a few more days, after the Washington Mystics lost their ninth straight game Tuesday night to secure the worst start in franchise history. The Connecticut Sun won 76-59, becoming the seventh WNBA team to start a season 9-0. Washington posted its lowest level of points this season, falling to 0-1 in the Commissioner’s Cup match.

The Sun are the last undefeated team in the league. The Mystics are the last winless team in the league. Less than a month into a new season, the Mystics have a lot to figure out.

“Despite the obvious loss of the person who will be our starting point guard one game into the season,” Thibault said, referring to Brittney Sykes, “deep down we feel like there was games that we could win and we didn’t, so it’s frustrating. It’s professional basketball: you’re judged on your wins and your losses. It’s frustrating to lose. ‘feel like you’ve missed some opportunities I think it’s important not to put the weight of the whole season into every game. You have to feel a little bit of desperation and urgency, but you have to play. game available to you.

Washington, which went 0-8 from the 2007 team, lost two starters Tuesday: Sykes and Shakira Austin. Sykes missed her seventh straight game with a sprained ankle as the Mystics returned to the scene of the crime, where she fell in the second game of the season. Thibault said she was slowly getting better; she was jumping while doing some light shots during filming Tuesday morning. There is no timetable for his return.

Austin aggravated his surgically repaired hip late in Friday’s loss at the New York Liberty. She did not practice Monday and did not travel with the team to Connecticut. Thibault said he thought she might return this week, but didn’t know when; the Mystics host the Chicago Sky on Thursday and Caitlin Clark’s Indiana Fever on Friday before traveling to New York on Sunday. Austin has missed three games this season and remains limited to minutes.

The schedule – two games at Connecticut, two against 2023 runner-up New York and matchups with the Phoenix Mercury and Seattle Storm (two of them), who loaded up in free agency – didn’t make service to the Mystics. They also took a road trip out West with three games in five days.

My first job is not to feel sorry for myself,” said guard Ariel Atkins, who had nine points on 3-of-12 shooting Tuesday. “Nobody cares. That’s the way it is. I have to do my job every day, regardless of our record. And I think at the end of the day, my job is not just to make sure that I’m good (but also) at making sure my teammates are good. We always do the things we need to do to get our first win. I think we fight every day for our culture and our organization. the things we need to do – we just need to figure it out on the pitch.

The Mystics collapsed in the second half after keeping the game competitive in the first. Washington led 33-32 at halftime after holding the Sun to 13 points in the second quarter. Connecticut returned the favor after halftime: Washington’s anemic offense, which ranked last in points per game, went ice cold and managed just 10 points in the third quarter. Those 10 points came on 2-of-15 shooting, including 0-of-8 from inside the arc.

The Sun opened the quarter with a 13-2 run and never trailed again. The Mystics finished 6 of 29 (20.7 percent) from three-point range and shot 31.3 percent overall.

I’m just trying to figure out how we have flow for about 22 minutes and not for the rest,” Atkins said. “I think if there’s anything I could pinpoint on what I’m trying to figure out, it’s how we get easier shots. I feel like every shot we take right now is either contested at the rim or a contested pull-up for me. We may have a few open threes here and there, but right now we don’t have any easy looks.

Rookie Aaliyah Edwards started in place of Austin and scored a career-high 14 points to go with nine rebounds. There was a strong contingent of Edwards’ former University of Connecticut teammates in the building, including star Paige Bueckers.

“I’m happy with the way I was able to (play),” Edwards said. “My teammates found me. I was able to finish. But (one person can’t) win a game – it’s a team collective.

Myisha Hines-Allen was the only other Mystics player in double figures; she scored 10 points coming off the bench.

DeWanna Bonner led the Sun with 20 points and eight rebounds, and former Maryland star Alyssa Thomas finished with seven points, seven rebounds and seven assists. Brionna Jones, another Maryland alum, had 15 points.

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