There were five games in the WNBA on Friday. Here are the recaps!
Sun blow out Lynx, 96-79
The Sun clinched their second consecutive 20-win season with a blowout win over the defending WNBA champions. Meanwhile, the Lynx will have to beat the Mystics on Sunday to guarantee themselves an eighth consecutive winning season.
The Lynx came out strong with a 28-22 lead after the first quarter. But from then on, it was all Connecticut. Jonquel Jones was back in the starting lineup and scored 26 points and made 5 three-pointers. Alyssa Thomas added 18 points, 8 rebounds and 8 assists.
For the Lynx, Sylvia Fowles scored 25 points and three other starters also scored in double figures. Though the Lynx shot nearly 50 percent this game, the Sun just had an even better performance, especially from the free throw line, where they made 18 of 23 attempts. The Lynx shot 100 percent from the free throw line but attempted just six shots.
Mystics beat Sparks 69-67 on a Natasha Cloud buzzer beater
The Mystics finished their Capital One Arena era on a high note as they defeated the Sparks 69-67. Both teams struggled to score in the final minute until Natasha Cloud made an off-balance fadeaway shot to give Washington the win.
Cloud only scored four points Friday, but will be the hero of this game due to that shot. It extended the Mystics’ winning streak to eight games and helped them tie the 2010 Mystics team’s regular-season win mark of 22.
Washington didn’t appear to have the upper hand in this game and probably should have lost it if it wasn’t for Cloud’s shot. They allowed the Sparks to race to double-digit leads early in the first and third quarters. But they persevered and kept chipping away at those leads to give them a chance at the end.
Cloud’s heroics weren’t the only highlight. At halftime, Tianna Hawkins and Candace Parker were assessed technical fouls for getting into a scuffle after Parker bumped into Delle Donne, who was on the floor after the second quarter buzzer went off.
Wings clinch last playoff spot with 107-102 victory over Aces
The Wings finally ended a nine-game losing streak with a close win over the Aces. Liz Cambage put up a big performance right when Dallas needed her most, scoring 43 points and grabbing 13 rebounds. For the Aces, A’ja Wilson scored 34 points, while Kayla McBride added 16 points and dished 12 assists.
The game was relatively even throughout, but Las Vegas had the upper hand early on while Dallas began to get the edge toward the end. Ultimately, the Wings have now clinched consecutive playoff berths for the first time since 2009, when they were the Detroit Shock.
The last month has been very rough for Dallas, but they have ultimately turned a corner as they made the postseason once again. They should have enough talent to make a semifinals run. Even though the Wings will be the eighth seed in the playoffs, it is not unprecedented to see a low playoff seed make the semifinals or better. The 2015 Chicago Sky made the Finals despite a 15-19 regular season and the 2016 Phoenix Mercury made the semifinals despite an eighth seed.
Mercury defeat Dream with 104-95 win
Atlanta has been running on all cylinders for most of this season, even after Angel McCoughtry had a season-ending knee injury. But their winning ways came to an end after Brittney Griner, Diana Taurasi and DeWanna Bonner scored a combined 81 points. In addition, Griner and Bonner grabbed 18 and 16 rebounds, respectively, while Taurasi dished 14 assists, giving her best Sue Bird impression.
Tiffany Hayes continued to play in great form, scoring 21 points for Atlanta while Alex Bentley led all Dream scorers with 24 points and making 6 three-pointers. Despite Phoenix’s stars having great performances all night, Atlanta managed to keep this game close from the start until nearly the very end. It’s commendable to see the Dream play the way they did today and in the games since McCoughtry’s injury. But at some point, it was going to be too much.
Storm clinch top seed in WNBA Playoffs with 85-77 win over Liberty
Breanna Stewart scored 22 points and grabbed 15 rebounds to lead Seattle to homecourt advantage throughout the WNBA Playoffs. Sue Bird added 13 points and also shot 3-of-4 from the three-point line.
The Storm took advantage of strong first and fourth quarters to send the Liberty to their twelfth straight loss this season. Tina Charles led New York with 21 points, but like most Liberty games this season, she didn’t get much help. Brittany Boyd, Sugar Rodgers and Kiah Stokes also scored in double digits.
Playoff standings update
All eight playoff teams are now decided. The Storm, Dream, Mystics, Sun, Sparks, Mercury, Lynx and Wings will all play beyond Sunday. The first, seventh and eighth seeds are also decided, with the Storm, Lynx and Wings taking those spots respectively.
That said, the Mystics and Dream are still battling for the second seed. If the Mystics beat the Lynx on Sunday while the Dream lose. Washington will earn the second seed. The battle for the fourth seed will be interesting because the Sun already hold the tiebreaker against the Sparks when they play on Sunday. However, Connecticut does not hold the tiebreaker against Phoenix, who hold the tiebreaker against Connecticut but lost it to the Sparks.
Every WNBA team plays on Sunday and it’s exciting to see that there’s still a lot to play for, even among teams in the middle of the playoff pack.