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Mystics defeat Storm, split weekend series

Oct 10, 2021; Phoenix, Arizona, USA; A view of the offical game ball during the second half of game one of the 2021 WNBA Finals between the Phoenix Mercury and the Chicago Sky at Footprint Center. Mandatory Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports
Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

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