The Washington Mystics ended their three-game trip with a win at the Chicago Sky. But Elena Delle Donne’s awkward early-season matchup against her former team hasn’t ended just yet.
The Mystics (2-2) host the Sky (1-3) in the second game of a home-and-home set on Friday night in Washington D.C..
Delle Donne, who spent her first four seasons with Chicago before demanding a trade this offseason, had 21 points and eight rebounds in Washington’s 82-67 road win on Wednesday.
The Sky sent Delle Donne, the 2015 WNBA Most Valuable Player, to the Mystics in January for a package that included center Stefanie Dolson and the No. 2 overall selection the 2017 Draft.
Delle Donne, the 6-foot-5 scoring dynamo has immediately provided Washington with the desired offensive punch. She is averaging 21.5 points on 56.3 percent shooting. She made all 21 of her free throws during the 1-2 trip.
“Obviously there’s nerves,” Delle Donne said of the return to Chicago. “It’s weird being here and all the talk around it and just wanting to get this game under my belt, getting back here, getting through this game and getting a win. I’m just thrilled we were able to get through it.”
Washington opened the trip with 10-point losses against the Los Angeles Sparks and Seattle Storm, but closed strong defensively.
Cappie Pondexter led the Sky with 17 points, but went 4 of 15 from the field as Chicago shot 30 percent. The Mystics pulled away late, outscoring the Sky 24-14 in the fourth quarter.
Washington outrebounded Chicago 44-38.
“We made progress (Wednesday) in Chicago, especially on the defensive end,” Mystics coach Mike Thibault told the “Locked on Wizards” podcast following Thursday’s practice.
The practice session allowed Thibault to begin prepping for the month-long absence of forward Emma Meesseman. The WNBA’s leading 3-point shooter last season, Meesseman headed overseas following Wednesday’s game to be with the Belgium national team for the FIBA world championships.
The hope is the presence of Delle Donne and other key contributors, including forwards Tianna Hawkins, will offset the loss of Washington’s second-leading scorer last season.
“You got one of the three or four best players in the league on your side,” Thibault said. “It helps cover some absences. To lose Emma a year ago would have been devastating.”
Dolson, selected sixth overall by Washington in the 2014 WNBA Draft, had 13 points and 11 rebounds for the Sky in Wednesday’s loss.
“We competed hard,” Dolson said. “We gave up, me especially, I gave up too many offensive rebounds towards the end. … I’m really disappointed in myself. We just got to get back on the court and get ready for Friday.”
Allie Quiqley also scored 13 points in her first game this season after completing her season in Turkey. Now she faces a second matchup in as many games against her former teammate.
“Just playing in this league so many years, it’s just something that happens,” Quiqley said of facing Delle Donne. “I’ve been on so many teams where players leave that it’s just the reality of the situation. I’m sure it was more weird for her than it was for us.”