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Mystics clinch final playoff spot behind Latta's 25

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The Washington Mystics needed to win one game to clinch the last berth for the WNBA playoffs, and their floor general, Ivory Latta, made sure that tonight would be the night.

Chris Poss

With both Washington and Indiana taking two games apiece in this season series before tonight's matchup, it was anyone's game once things tipped off at the Verizon Center, and with the teams fighting relentlessly until the final whistle, it took overtime play before the Washington Mystics were able secure the 76-72 win.

The Mystics (17-15) and the Fever (18-14) went back-and-forth with only one point separating the two teams by the end of the first quarter.

Washington started to break away leading by six with only 27 seconds left in the second quarter, but with Stefanie Dolson's flagrant foul and an additional foul by Emma Meesseman, Indiana posted three points off of free throws to make it a 38-35 ball game with the Fever on the heels of the Mystics going into the second half.

And even after halftime, Washington continued to foul. Dolson (who eventually fouled out) picked up her fourth personal less than two minutes into the third quarter, and Natasha Cloud added another.

Meesseman stepped up and played smart drawing an offensive foul. She forced turnovers, found open space, and recorded nine points and five rebounds. However, it was Ivory Latta who came through in the clutch making the and-one to send the game into overtime. Latta led the team with 25 points and was 90% from the line.

Despite Washington's 23 turnovers, the team was able to break their 4-game losing streak and clinch a spot in the playoffs.

"We get a stop, and they knock it loose," said Washington Coach Mike Thibault, "So all of that work we're doing on defense is wasted."

For the Fever, Layshia Clarendon, Lynetta Kizer, and Tamika Catchings put up double digits, but it wasn't enough to seal the victory.

With Indiana coming away with a loss tonight, Stephanie White will have to win her next two games in order to make history...again. She has already set the Fever's first-year coaching record for most wins as a rookie (18), and she was instrumental in Indiana's 11th consecutive playoff berth (most in WNBA). But if the Fever can win both on the road against the Atlanta Dream and at home against the New York Liberty, White will become the third rookie coach in the WNBA to record at least 20 wins in his or her first year.

The Friday, Washington heads up to Madison Square Garden to take on the number one seed in the Eastern Conference, New York Liberty, and Indiana makes their way down to Philips Arena squaring up against the Atlanta Dream with two games left to go in regular season play.