There were no tears on Friday, but Clarke had warmed up for a race match, and went through an intense shooting routine long before the match. Her gray shirt was soaked before the team’s training began. She ended that session with a determined handshake with assistant coach LaToya Sanders, which ended with three smashes in the thigh.
The game itself is where things got out of hand. The Dallas Wings handed the Mystics their first loss of the season, 94-86, at the Entertainment and Sports Arena, reducing the appearance of Washington’s first free agent takeover from last season.
Clark started her first game since October 6, 2020. She walked off the field in the WNBA Championship with the Seattle Storm in that last game. The crowd gave Clark a standing ovation during the introductions as she jumped out of her seat, went through a group of her teammates and finished with a ballet and lively dance.
“I almost cried, I almost cried,” Clark said. “So before the game, during the national anthem, I always pray. This is my time to pray. And during that time, as at the end of it, I was like, ‘No, we don’t. we are here. suck it up.
“Yeah, it was great to be back there.”
The nine-year veteran finished the game with nine points, four rebounds, one pass and one block in under 20 minutes. The Mystics fell to 3-1, and Dallas improved to 1-1.
Clarke sustained an injury at Lisfranc that required surgery while playing in France in March 2021. The “long trip back”, as she described it, included endless days at the Mystics training facility before any game with the organization. Elena Delle Donne, who spent many of her own rehab hours, took a closer look at the process.
“She’s very hardworking, said Daily Dawn. “Every day you see her show up, and she has the same energy and the same focus. A lot of days I’m sure a lot of pain and a lot of things she was working through. But still, every day, giving the same focus and then just getting each other to count On the days when you know you don’t feel it, it’s always a huge thing. I feel like we’ve built a really strong relationship and relationship because of that, which is great. Now we finally have to play.
“I’ve been wanting to play with AC for a very long time now.”
Clarke said she didn’t even think about the foot during the match. She described herself as a little slower than usual, but was happy not to get stressed out during the match. The WNBA Team’s overall defense selection twice said its defense is ahead of attack at this point.
Here’s what else to know from Friday’s loss:
The start to the game was slow Ariki Ogunpoel, the superstar, didn’t score in the first quarter – then got better. Ogunbowale scored 19 points in the second quarter – his career-high for a quarter – while leading the Wings to come back from a 15-point deficit. She hit five consecutive three-pointers through 18-4 in the second quarter. The 19 points were the second most scored in the second quarter of a WNBA game.
Ogunbowale finished with 26 points, and every Dallas novice player scored in double digits.
“She’s a great player and she’s going to get long periods of scoring like that,” said Dele Donne. “She’s just an exceptional offensive player. But you can’t let that seep in and affect everything else. It can’t turn into shifts and turn into missed chests and all that.”
The Mystics jumped to a 10-point lead during the first quarter that saw 62.5 percent shootouts. They hit their first nine shots.
Energy changed in the second quarter with the start of Ogunbowale. The attack became disoriented and the defense struggled to guard the perimeter. The Mystics still shot 52.6 percent from the field and 52 percent from behind the arc, but the 21 turns were hard to beat. Dallas turned those transitions into 26 points.
Dele Don scored 20 points and got five rebounds and four assists. Ariel Atkins finished with 19 points, four rebounds and four assists.
“The twists and turns and that’s the game in a nutshell” Mystics coach Mike Thibault said. “We only had one turnover in the first quarter, so 20 from then is a really bad statistic.”
Striker Kennedy Cook is scheduled to arrive in Washington on Sunday and travel to Dallas with the squad on Monday. In her absence, the team was given a place on the hardship list, which was used with Katie Banzan. Banzan, who has quickly become a fan favorite, is set to be released immediately upon Cook’s arrival. Stephanie Jones was released Friday upon Clark’s return. …
The Elizabeth Williams Center may be in the capital soon. Her Turkish team, Fenerbahce, led 2-0 in the KBSL Final, a five-match series. Match 3 is scheduled for Sunday and the championship could be decided, ending the season and bringing Williams back into the squad. …
Natasha Cloud missed her second straight game while on health and safety protocols, and will need two consecutive negative tests to get back into the team. She has been tweeting live for games from home.
““Sucks, I hate playing without her,” Daily Dawn said. “You see it. You see it in the lulls. You see it in our lack of control sometimes, in our lack of getting into things. You also see it on the defensive end. Tache affects the game a lot. And its missing energy.
“So, Tash, stop tweeting. Be healthy.”