Mystics attempt to slow Kahleah Copper, Mercury

There are two winless teams left in the WNBA, and after their last effort came up two points short, the Washington Mystics are still one of them.

The Mystics will try again when they continue a three-game road swing against white-hot Kahleah Copper and the Phoenix Mercury on Thursday.

Washington (0-4) opened its trip on Tuesday at Los Angeles and had the game tied at 55-55 after three quarters. The Sparks pulled ahead by nine in the fourth before the Mystics got back within one thanks in part to rookie Aaliyah Edwards’ six straight points. Still, Los Angeles held on to win 70-68.

“It’s far too often right now where we’re getting stops and not converting enough off of them,” Washington coach Eric Thibault said, per the Washington Post. “You hold the team to 70 points, turn them over (24) times, you should win the game. We just had too many empty possessions.”

Shakira Austin and 31-year-old rookie Julie Vanloo each had 12 points for Washington, with Vanloo adding nine assists.

The Mystics are struggling as they try to replace two departed stars, Elena Delle Donne and Natasha Cloud, the latter of whom they’ll face for the first time on Thursday. Cloud, a starting guard for the Mystics’ 2019 championship team, signed with Phoenix in free agency.

Cloud has averaged 7.3 assists so far for the Mercury (2-1). It helps to be teammates with Copper, whose latest performance pushed her scoring average to a league-best 31.3 points per game.

Copper scored 14 of her 37 points in the fourth quarter on Tuesday night to fuel Phoenix’s 98-88 win over Las Vegas — revenge for a season-opening loss to the Aces. Copper shot a remarkable 15-for-23 (6-for-7 in the fourth), while Cloud had 10 assists on top of 11 points.

“I think I was just put in perfect positions,” Copper said, per Burn City Sports. “I am a competitor. We came in here last week and we didn’t leave the court hanging our heads. We went about it like we are going to get right back out there. Shoutout to my teammates, shoutout to my coaches for believing in me.”

–Field Level Media