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Washington Mystics lose Kristi Toliver for rest of season due to ACL injury

Kristi Toliver went down with a noncontact knee injury in Sunday's loss to the Los Angeles Sparks

Washington Mystics star Kristi Toliver will miss the rest of the season after she tore her ACL, coach Eric Thibault confirmed Tuesday.

Toliver went down with a noncontact knee injury near the end of the Mystics’ 72-64 loss to the Los Angeles Sparks on Sunday after she tried to make a move just past half court. She was then carried off the court and did not return.

The 36-year-old has played in just 11 games this season after missing much of the year due to plantar fasciitis. She played in only 11 games last season and 19 during the 2021 season due to various injuries.

“I’m not going to lie: Emotionally, I’m shocked,” Washington’s Elena Delle Donne said after the injury, via The Washington Post. “You try to do the whole thing where you want to rally for [Toliver], but we were sick. Just sick. What she’s been through with her foot, how much she’s worked to get back — and she’s feeling good. She’s talking about even next year and all those things. To see something like that happen at this point in her career, it just sucks. ... She’s such a great person. So it’s brutal.”

Kristi Toliver went down with a noncontact knee injury in Sunday's loss to the Los Angeles Sparks. (Scott Taetsch/Getty Images)
Kristi Toliver went down with a noncontact knee injury in Sunday's loss to the Los Angeles Sparks. (Scott Taetsch/Getty Images)

Toliver has averaged 3.6 points and played just nine minutes per game this season, her first back with Washington after a two-year run with the Las Vegas Aces. She joined the Mystics in 2017, and she picked up two of her three career All-Star nods during that three-year run. Toliver helped the club win a title in D.C. in 2019, too. It’s unclear how long she will be sidelined.

Toliver also worked as an assistant coach for the Washington Wizards and Dallas Mavericks. Part of why her injury was so devastating for the team, guard Brittney Sykes said, is because it has lost that veteran leadership.

"It's much more than just, 'OK, she's a player's coach,' like she's a player's player, too," Sykes said, via ESPN. "And she knows how to get to us when maybe we can't get to each other. So to have that missing, I mean, you saw it, we all broke down. This s*** broke our hearts because of how crucial she is to us. She's a quiet assassin. She don't say much, but when she opens her mouth, it's like, 'S***, shut up and listen.'"

The Mystics finished Sunday’s game with seven healthy players after losing starters Ariel Atkins and Shakira Austin to a nose and hip injury, respectively, last week. Washington, which has lost four of its past six, enters Tuesday’s game against the Phoenix Mercury with a 17-20 record. The Mystics sit seventh in the league standings with three games left in the regular season and have yet to clinch a playoff spot.