UPDATE, 10/10/2019: The Washington Mystics won their first WNBA title on Thursday. Read the story here.
While Tuesday’s Game 4 of the WNBA Finals didn’t end with a Washington Mystics win — the Connecticut Sun tied the series 2-2 and forced a Game 5 back in D.C. — the University of Maryland women’s basketball head coach says it’s a dream come true to watch former players of hers battle it out.
“I mean, what a series it’s been,” Brenda Frese told WTOP on Wednesday morning. “I mean, to go all the way to Game 5.”
Four former Terps are on the Mystics’ roster: guard Natasha Cloud, forward Tianna Hawkins, guard Kristi Toliver and guard Shatori Walker-Kimbrough. Two former Terps play for the Sun: forward Alyssa Thomas and forward Brionna Jones.
“It’s a dream come true. As a coach, you know, the players walk in here and, you know, have tremendous dreams and goals of playing at the next level for a lot of them,” Frese said.
She also said the Mystics have powerful tools in their arsenal: ball movement and three-pointers.
“You know, when they’re really moving the ball, when they’re shooting the three ball, the way they can shoot the three, they’re extremely dangerous,” Frese said. “So, obviously, I think that’s an important piece for them come tomorrow night.”
Frese has served as head coach for U. Md. since 2002. And she herself was a guard for the Arizona Wildcats from 1989 to 1992. She says now, in 2019, it no longer matters what gender athletes are.
“I think we’ve gotten to a point where we’re just wanting to watch great athletes perform at the highest level,” she said.
And home turf advantage doesn’t really matter either.
“I think both teams have shown it really doesn’t matter where you play, you know, this is for it all, come tomorrow night, and they’ve split on each other’s court,” she said. “I think it’s going to be an exciting game and I can’t wait to be there to watch it.”
The title will be decided Thursday night in Washington. A first-time champion will be crowned as neither team has yet won a WNBA Final. Former Terp Thomas fell just short of the first triple-double in Finals history.
Having a chance to win the title at home on Thursday gave the Mystics some confidence.
“That’s what we worked for this whole season,” Mystics MVP and guard-forward Elena Delle Donne told The Associated Press. “Can’t rely on being home to get it done. The way we came out and started the game dug us into a huge hole. They are a great team, and you give that type of lead to them, makes things difficult.”
Game 4 held to form for this series, with the team that led after the first quarter coming away with the victory. The Sun outscored Washington by 15 on Tuesday night.
The Mystics won the opening period of Game 1 by 13 points. Connecticut was ahead by 12 in the second game and Washington by 15 in Game 3. Each time, the team that was trailing in the period had 17 points.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.