Injury-plagued Mystics host Dream (Jul 19, 2017)

BY AP • July 19, 2017

The Washington Mystics are coming off their worst loss of the season, but two recent injuries are causing more suffering.

The Mystics (11-9) will face the Atlanta Dream (9-10) on Wednesday afternoon at the Verizon Center in Washington without Elena Delle Donne (right ankle) for a second consecutive game. Washington's top scorer sat out Sunday's 85-55 loss at the New York Liberty, and a recent MRI revealed the 2015 WNBA MVP's injury is a sprain.

The Mystics already knew second-leading scorer Tayler Hill will miss the season after tearing the ACL in right knee in Friday's win over Indiana.

"We have the All-Star break coming up, we have one game. We have to figure out a way to win on Wednesday against Atlanta," Mystics coach Mike Thibault said. "We don't know how long Elena is going to be out. We know that we're not going to have Tayler. Other people are going to have to step up. We've been playing a certain kind of lineup for five games now, and now we have to adjust, so we'll see. I thought we had a couple people play well, but not enough."

Emma Meesseman paced Washington with 19 points against New York, but she was the only Mystic to score in double figures. The Mystics trailed 30-14 after the first quarter and shot 27.7 percent from the field overall.

"Obviously it's not easy playing without them because they are major pieces, but I think in professional sports, you can't use that as an excuse," Meesseman said. "You have to keep playing... you have to keep trying. It's true that it's been a really short time (since their injury) so I'm sure we'll try to adjust to that in practice now for the next game."

Atlanta must deal with its own kind of adjustments, specifically travel and tired legs. The Dream headed to Washington after Tuesday's 88-75 home win over San Antonio.

After trailing by 10 points following the first quarter, the Dream outscored the Stars 47-28 over the second and third quarters. Tiffany Hayes had 12 of her 25 points in the second quarter and Brittney Sykes finished with 20. Atlanta attempted 41 free throws and outscored San Antonio 41-13 from the free-throw line.

The win stopped a two-game slide.

"Our goal is to get back to .500 after this week," Dream coach Michael Cooper said following Saturday's loss at Seattle. "It will be tough, but we can do it."

Washington defeated Atlanta 78-72 at home on June 4 behind 23 points from Delle Donne, who will also miss Saturday's WNBA All-Star game. Hayes, a college star for powerhouse Connecticut, is slated for her first appearance.

"I just feel like I finally joined the pack," Hayes told The Ledger (Ga.). "Everybody comes from UConn and comes to the league and does great things. Most of them are All-Stars. I finally get to say that I was one of the UConn people that were elected as an All-Star and I earned it."

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