Brittney Sykes beats buzzer to lift Mystics over Liberty

Sep 29, 2020; Bradenton, Florida, USA; A game ball waits on a sanitation cart during game 5 of the WNBA semifinals between the Connecticut Suns and the Las Vegas Aces at IMG Academy. Mandatory Credit: Mary Holt-USA TODAY Sports

Brittney Sykes hit a catch-and-shoot buzzer-beater Sunday afternoon for the visiting Washington Mystics, who squandered a 12-point fourth-quarter lead before snapping the New York Liberty’s eight-game winning streak with a 90-88 victory in the regular-season finale for both teams.

The two teams will meet again Friday in the opener of a best-of-three series in the first round of the playoffs, when the seventh-seeded Mystics (19-21) visit the second-seeded Liberty (32-8).

The Mystics led 84-72 midway through the fourth before the Liberty mounted a 16-4 run capped by Breanna Stewart’s short bank shot with 21.5 seconds left. After a Washington timeout, Stewart blocked Elena Della Donne’s shot with what appeared to be 0.2 seconds left.

Following a review, three-tenths of a second were added to the clock. In one motion, Sykes caught the inbounds pass from Natasha Cloud, shot over Stewart’s extended hand and drained the game-winning jumper.

Sykes finished with a team-high 20 points, seven rebounds and six assists while Cloud had 17 points, six rebounds and five assists. Delle Donne and Ariel Atkins added 11 points apiece.

Sabrina Ionescu had 20 points, seven rebounds and seven assists for the Liberty. Jonquel Jones (19 points, nine rebounds) flirted with a double-double, while Betnijah Laney scored 13 points and Marine Johannes had 11 points off the bench.

The Liberty led by as many as eight in the first half before the teams entered the locker room tied 50-50. Sykes’ 3-pointer began a 9-0 run that gave Washington its first double-digit lead at 67-57 with 3:10 left in the third.

Ionescu converted a three-point play and Stefanie Dolson sank a 3-pointer to pull the Liberty within 71-67 at the end of the third. Delle Donne opened the fourth with a 3-pointer and Stewart answered with a jumper before the Mystics mounted a 10-3 run to go ahead 84-72.

–Field Level Media

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