Stewart helps Storm beat Mystics 82-77, clinch playoff berth
Seattle Storm's Sue Bird, right, talks with her teammates during a break in the first half of their WNBA basketball game against the Chicago Sky Wednesday, July 20, 2022, in Chicago. About a week later, the Storm went on to defeat the Mystics.
AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast
| July 31, 2022 11:37 AM
WASHINGTON (AP) — Breanna Stewart made four free throws in the final 12 seconds and finished with 18 points, Tina Charles scored 16 points and grabbed nine rebounds and Seattle used a big second-half run to beat the Washington Mystics 82-77 Saturday and clinch a berth in the WNBA playoffs.
Seattle (19-11), which had lost three of its previous four games, took sole possession of fourth in the league standings — a game ahead of the fifth-place Mystics and 1 1/2 games behind No. 3 Connecticut with about two weeks before the postseason begins. The Storm have won the first two games of their three-game regular season series with Washington, which wraps up when the teams meet again Sunday.
Epiphanny Prince took two steals coast-to-coast for layups 18 seconds apart as the Storm scored the first 13 points of the fourth quarter to cap a 16-0 spurt that made it 70-55 when Stefanie Talbot made a 3-pointer with 6:28 to play. Washington scored 14 of the next 18 points to trim its deficit to five points with 2 minutes left after Ariel Atkins hit a 3 and Alysha Clark made another 3-pointer to pull within a point with 26.3 seconds remaining. After an inadvertent whistle by an official, Seattle called timeout and Talbot threw away the ensuing inbounds pass but Ezi Magbegor forced Washington's Elena Delle Donne into a tough shot with 14.9 seconds to go.
Stewart grabbed the rebound and the Storm held on.
Washington (18-12) had won three games in a row and five of its last 6.
Delle Donne led the Mystics with 22 points and Atkins scored 13. Shakira Austin added 10 points and 10 rebounds and Natasha Cloud had 10 points and 11 assists.
The Mystics clinched a playoff berth later Saturday when the Atlanta Dream lost 81-68 to the Dallas Wings. Washington failed to reach postseason play in 2021 for just the second time since coach Mike Thibault took over in 2013.