By: Steve Miller – Staff Writer
For the first time in their newly professional careers, former Flyers Ally Malott and Andrea Hoover faced off in the WNBA. Malott’s Washington Mystics defeated Hoover’s Los Angeles Sparks 84-80 at the Verizon Center in Washington, D.C., Tuesday evening.
Malott, a forward, was selected eighth overall by the Mystics in April’s WNBA draft—the third highest draft selection of a student-athlete in the University of Dayton’s history. Hoover, a guard, was selected 31st overall by the Sparks.
Hoover was Dayton’s leading scorer in the 2014-15 season, and, along with Malott, she led the team to its first ever Elite Eight appearance in the NCAA tournament. The two Flyers were also roommates for all four years at UD.
Tuesday marked the first of two scheduled meetings between the Mystics and Sparks this season. The game was nationally televised on ESPN2.
Both Flyers entered the game midway through the first quarter and had a brief interaction on the court.
“I was guarding one of their guards, and [Malott] was trying to screen me,” Hoover said in a Flyer News post-game interview, “And I could see her trying to wiggle her hip out, but I think she stopped because it was me.”
In the closing seconds of the first quarter, Hoover stole the ball on the Sparks’ defensive end and passed up to her teammate Temeka Johnson. Johnson hit a jumper and drew a foul, completing a three-point play to end the quarter.
With just under four minutes to play in the first half, Hoover received the ball on a transition opportunity for the Sparks. She pulled up and sank a jumper for her first two points of the game.
At halftime, the Mystics led 39-37.
Hoover played the majority of the second half and 20 minutes in the game total. Malott was on the court for just eight minutes of the game.
Near the close of the third quarter, Hoover converted two free throw attempts to cut the Sparks’ deficit to three points.
The Mystics led by three again with just seconds remaining in the fourth quarter when Hoover received a pass in her offensive corner. She launched up a 3-point attempt, but it clanged off the far side of the rim. She was an uncharacteristic 0-for-4 from 3-point range in the game.
“I was rushing it—especially that last shot—I thought it was good,” she said, “But it was just half a centimeter off.”
Hoover was previously 4-for-8 on 3-point shots this season before Tuesday. She is UD’s all-time leader in 3-pointers.
The Mystics closed out an 84-80 victory over the Sparks, led by forwards Tierra Ruffin-Pratt and Emma Meesseman, who each recorded 20 points.
Hoover finished the game with four points, three rebounds and five fouls for Los Angeles.
Malott did not score for Washington.
The five fouls and four 3-point attempts show that Hoover has clearly not lost her competitive edge since her days as a Flyer. “Every single coach just tells me to keep shooting and [not to] lose my confidence,” she said. “It’s definitely been a learning experience, playing with some of the best players in the country.”
“It’s just a higher caliber of play… Everyone out there has the capability of scoring. If you look at every single player, they were probably the best player on their college team.”
Hoover and Malott, who graduated as leading scorers, now are settling into learning roles on their respective teams. But both are exactly where they want to be.
“It’s great that we’re both in this position. It’s a great opportunity for us to keep playing the game we love,” Hoover added, “And also we get to see each other again!”
The Sparks and Mystics next play each other Sept. 3 in Los Angeles. Check online and @FlyerNews for coverage. Photos by Steve Miller.
Flyer News was unable to reach Ally Malott after the game for comment.