The Washington Mystics beat the Minnesota Lynx on Friday night 86-79 and became the first team to seal a spot in the 2019 playoffs.
But the Mystics didn’t coast to their fifth straight victory, facing a heavy challenge against the Lynx in Minneapolis. There were nine lead changes and 11 ties, and though Minnesota led at halftime, its advantage was just two points.
The Lynx finally achieved some separation by the third quarter and led by six points heading into the final frame. But Natasha Cloud, Elena Delle Donne and Emma Meesseman scored significant portions of their final totals in the fourth quarter, sparking a 30-17 Mystics run to take the game.
Ariel Atkins led all scorers with 18 points, Meesseman came off the bench to add 17 and Delle Donne and Aerial Powers scored 14 apiece. Cloud added 13 points and a game-high eight assists (tied with Meesseman), making her the Mystics’ all-time assists leader.
The Lynx were led by Sylvia Fowles’ 16-point, eight-rebound performance, as well as Danielle Robinson and Damiris Dantas’ 14 points each. Napheesa Collier added 13 points and a game-high nine rebounds.
There it is! The assist that makes Natasha Cloud the all-time leader in Mystics history! pic.twitter.com/FxdN3jmP96— Washington Mystics (@WashMystics) August 17, 2019
With Minnesota’s loss and the Phoenix Mercury’s win later in the evening, the two teams are now separated by just half a game for seventh and eighth place, respectively. The Mercury lead the ninth-place (i.e. not playoff-seeded) Indiana Fever by three games.
The Mystics host the Indiana Fever on Sunday, Aug. 18, at 3 p.m. ET (NBA TV). The Lynx travel to face the Seattle Storm on Sunday, Aug. 18, at 7 p.m. ET (WNBA League Pass).
Friday’s other action
Connecticut Sun 79, Seattle Storm 78
The Sun edged out the Storm 79-78 thanks to a pair of Shekinna Stricklen free throws with seconds on the clock. Connecticut, which was down by 12 at the half, was led by Stricklen’s 24 points and Alyssa Thomas’ 17 points and 11 rebounds.
Up next: The Sun take on the Wings on Sunday, Aug. 18, at 3 p.m. ET (WNBA League Pass). The Storm host the Lynx on Sunday, Aug. 18, at 7 p.m. ET (WNBA League Pass).
STRAIGHT.— Connecticut Sun (@ConnecticutSun) August 17, 2019
Chicago Sky 91, Los Angeles Sparks 81
The Sky pulled into a tie for fourth place with the Sparks by beating them 91-81. Allie Quigley’s season-high 26 points led all scorers, while there were two near double-doubles on the Sky: Courtney Vandersloot’s 17 points and 9 assists and Astou Ndour’s 11 points and 9 rebounds.
Up next: The Sky host the Las Vegas Aces on Sunday, Aug. 18, at 6 p.m. ET (NBA TV). The Sparks play the Lynx on Tuesday, Aug. 20, at 10:30 p.m. ET (NBA TV).
Sheesh. The Chicago native seems RIGHT at home tonight. pic.twitter.com/Xh6yUqmbgj— Chicago Sky (@wnbachicagosky) August 17, 2019
Dallas Wings 83, New York Liberty 77
The Wings held off the Liberty 83-77 as the Wings’ Allisha Gray scored her 1,000th career point and notched a career-high 22 points. Arike Ogunbowale added 21 points and 5 assists as Dallas won a third straight game for the first time all season. Tina Charles paced the Liberty with a game-high 25 points.
Up next: The Wings head to Connecticut to take on the Sun on Sunday, Aug. 18, at 3 p.m. ET (WNBA League Pass). The Liberty visit the Mercury on Sunday, Aug. 18, at 6 p.m. ET (WNBA League Pass).
Phoenix Mercury 77, Atlanta Dream 68
The Mercury sent the Dream to its 11th straight loss in a 77-68 game. Though the Dream controlled the offense early, the Mercury used a 25-10 fourth quarter to wrap things up. DeWanna Bonner led all scorers with 27 points and grabbed a game-high 14 rebounds, making her the first Mercury player to reach 2,000 boards. Briann January added 16 points, while Leilani Mitchell scored 15.
Up next: The Dream take on the Sky on Tuesday, Aug. 20, at 7 p.m. ET (Twitter). The Mercury host the Liberty on Sunday, Aug. 18, at 6 p.m. ET (WNBA League Pass).