Ariel Atkins scored 23 points Sunday, and Elena Delle Donne produced a key bucket in the final minute as the Washington Mystics nipped the Seattle Storm 78-75 to earn a split of the teams’ two-game weekend series in Washington, D.C.
Atkins canned 4 of 9 from 3-point range for the Mystics (19-12), who pulled into a tie with Seattle (19-12) for fourth place in the WNBA. The top four teams at season’s end will host first-round playoff series, starting Aug. 17.
Delle Donne added 17 points, including a tough leaner in the lane with 46.5 seconds left for a 78-73 lead, and Natasha Cloud finished with 11 points and 10 assists. Washington earned a 34-26 rebounding advantage and also owned a 34-20 edge in points in the paint.
Breanna Stewart hit 9 of 12 shots and scored 23 points for the Storm, but missed a game-tying 3-pointer with 4.4 seconds left. Gabby Williams grabbed the offensive rebound and squeezed off a 3-pointer, but the ball rimmed out just before the final horn.
Seattle also got 15 points from Jewell Loyd and 12 from Sue Bird in her last game in Washington; she’s retiring at season’s end.
Cloud was a driving force as Washington made a 9-2 run in the first quarter to take a 16-10 lead. She accounted for every point with three assists and a driving layup.
Delle Donne connected on a pair of foul shots in the last minute of the quarter to make it 22-15 Mystics going to the second period.
Seattle controlled the second quarter, limiting Washington to just one bucket in the first 5 1/2 minutes and taking a 25-24 edge on Tina Charles’ midrange jumper. Its lead reached five, but the Storm required two foul shots from Ezi Magbegor in the final seconds to take a 37-36 lead into halftime.
The Mystics made a push late in the third quarter, going on a 12-4 burst to push the margin to nine on Atkins’ 3-point play in the last minute. A Magbegor layup with three seconds remaining drew the Storm within 62-55 going to the fourth period.
–Field Level Media