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Former Terps powering the Washington Mystics offense early in WNBA season

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Four Maryland products have been valuable members of the rotation.

Washington Mystics v Phoenix Mercury Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images

Coming off their first-ever trip to the WNBA Finals, the Washington Mystics have started the 2019 season strong, posting an early 7-3 record and averaging a league-high 85.9 points per game. Their offense has gone to the next level, and they have plenty of Maryland Terrapins to thank for that.

Washington has four former Terps — Kristi Toliver, Natasha Cloud, Tianna Hawkins and Shatori Walker-Kimbrough — averaging a combined 40.1 points per game so far this season. The quartet has accounted for 47 percent of the Mystics’ offense, and all four are among the team’s top eight scorers.

The starting backcourt of Toliver and Cloud has been consistent all season long. At age 32, Toliver is still one of the best three-point shooters in the league, knocking down 37.8 percent of her shots from deep. On Sunday, she surpassed the 4,000-point plateau for her career, but she doesn’t seem to be slowing down.

Cloud hasn’t been afraid to shoot from outside, either, and has set the tone for the entire team with her fast-paced and aggressive play at point guard. The 27-year-old — who transferred to St. Joseph’s after her freshman year at Maryland — is knocking on the door of becoming a WNBA star, as she also averages 5.9 assists per game.

Hawkins and Walker-Kimbrough, meanwhile, have brought an energy that has put Washington’s offensive prowess over the top.

Hawkins has transformed her game since college, where she was a dominant rebounder and reliable inside scorer who led the nation in field-goal percentage as a junior. She added a three-point shot to her arsenal during her senior year with the Terps, but this season she has taken that shot to a whole new level and is 13-for-27 at the moment. Her quickness and ball-handling skills have also improved to the point where she is now a guard-forward instead of just a power forward, which helps compensate for her height (6’3) being on the short side by WNBA standards.

Walker-Kimbrough has stepped her game up as well after a couple of quiet years to start her WNBA career. Walker-Kimbrough averaged 11.3 points per game through the first four games of the season, and she seems to have been on a mission to score and make a huge impact for her team on offense. She’s down to 8.2 per game, but dropped a career-high 17 points on Friday against the Los Angeles Sparks.

With the defending champion Seattle Storm losing Breanna Stewart to injury, the league is wide-open this season. If the Mystics are to take that final step, they’ll need these Terps along the way.

Terps around the league

Connecticut Sun (9-2)

Alyssa Thomas has been inconsistent with her scoring so far this season, but she notched her second 20-point game on June 16 in a win over the Storm, and in the Sun’s previous game, she scored 16 points. But Thomas is still a reliable all-around player, averaging 7.7 rebounds and 3.5 assists.

Brionna Jones has been playing less minutes the past two weeks now that rookie Kristine Anigwe has entered into the Sun’s rotation and is playing well. After playing double-digit minutes in each of Connecticut’s first four games, she hasn’t seen more than eight minutes since.

Seattle Storm (7-4)

Crystal Langhorne had her best game of the season on Saturday, scoring 10 points for the first time since the season opener and adding six rebounds and three steals in just 21 minutes of play (she played 32 minutes in the opener). She made two three-pointers in the final two minutes of the contest, which only added insult to injury for the opposing Sparks in a blowout win for the Storm.

Minnesota Lynx (5-5)

Lexie Brown was 2-for-4 from three-point range and had eight points in the Lynx’s loss to the New York Liberty on June 12. Then on June 16 against the Las Vegas Aces, she scored seven points with four rebounds and two steals. Brown has consistently been Minnesota’s first player off the bench and is averaging 22 minutes per game. She’s playing meaningful minutes in pressure situations and responding with clutch shots.

Season averages

Kristi Toliver — 11.8 points, 2.1 rebounds, 5.4 assists, 1.4 steals, 0.1 blocks
Shatori Walker-Kimbrough — 8.2 points, 2.8 rebounds, 1.6 assists, 1.2 steals, 0.3 blocks
Tianna Hawkins — 10.2 points, 4.1 rebounds, 0.6 assists, 0.8 steals, 0.2 blocks
Natasha Cloud — 9.9 points, 2.6 rebounds, 5.9 assists, 1.4 steals, 0.5 blocks

Alyssa Thomas — 11.4 points, 7.7 rebounds, 3.5 assists, 1.9 steals, 0.3 blocks
Brionna Jones — 2 points, 2.4 rebounds, 0.2 assists, 0.3 steals, 0.5 blocks

Crystal Langhorne — 4.7 points, 3.3 rebounds, 1.3 assists, 0.4 steals, 0.4 blocks

Lexie Brown — 9.2 points, 1.5 rebounds, 1.7 assists, 1 steal