WNBA: Lynx end Mystics' playoff hopes, Wings win

Field Level Media/Reuters

Posted at Sep 20 2021 09:14 AM

Napheesa Collier #24 of the Minnesota Lynx high-fives teammate Natalie Achonwa #11 after the game against the Connecticut Sun on May 30, 2021 at Target Center in Minneapolis, Minnesota. File photo. David Sherman/NBAE via Getty Images/AFP.
Napheesa Collier #24 of the Minnesota Lynx high-fives teammate Natalie Achonwa #11 after the game against the Connecticut Sun on May 30, 2021 at Target Center in Minneapolis, Minnesota. File photo. David Sherman/NBAE via Getty Images/AFP.

Aerial Powers scored 27 points, Napheesa Collier recorded a double-double with 14 points and 10 rebounds, and the Minnesota Lynx rode a third-quarter run to an 83-77 defeat of the host Washington Mystics on Sunday in the regular-season finale for both teams.

Minnesota (22-10) went on 18-2 run in the third quarter to build a 13-point lead, then held Washington (12-20) to a double-digit deficit for much of the fourth quarter en route to its fourth straight win and ninth in 10 games.

The late-season surge earned a Minnesota team that faced roster absences for much of the campaign the No. 3 seed in the upcoming WNBA playoffs.

Sunday's loss ended Washington's playoff hopes. The Mystics came into the day in a three-team race with New York and Los Angeles, needing both a win over the Lynx and a Sparks loss to Dallas later in the day.

Powers continued to be critical to the end-of-season push, with her game-high in scoring marking her fourth 20-plus-point outing in the Lynx's last six games.

Layshia Clarendon scored 10 points -- two of which were free throws with 27.5 seconds remaining to effectively seal the win -- and dished a game-high six assists in their first appearance for the Lynx since sustaining a leg injury on Aug. 24.

-- Wings win, deny Sparks final playoff spot --

Arike Ogunbowale #24 of the Dallas Wings celebrates after scoring a three point basket to win the game against the Seattle Storm on June 6, 2021 at the Angel of the Winds Arena in Everett, Washington. File photo. Joshua Huston, NBAE via Getty Images/AFP.
Arike Ogunbowale #24 of the Dallas Wings celebrates after scoring a three point basket to win the game against the Seattle Storm on June 6, 2021 at the Angel of the Winds Arena in Everett, Washington. File photo. Joshua Huston, NBAE via Getty Images/AFP.

Arike Ogunbowale scored 20 points and Isabelle Harrison added 14 off the bench on 7-of-7 shooting as the Dallas Wings defeated the visiting Los Angeles Sparks 87-84 on Sunday afternoon in Arlington, Texas, in the regular-season finale for both teams.

The Wings' victory kept Los Angeles from earning the eighth and final spot in the playoffs and allowed the New York Liberty to head to the postseason. 

Los Angeles, Washington and New York all finished the season at 12-20 but the Liberty advanced because they own the head-to-head tiebreaker against both the Sparks and the Mystics.

Dallas had already clinched the seventh seed in the playoffs and will open the postseason in Chicago on Thursday.

The Wings (14-18) led by 10 points heading into the fourth quarter and by a game-high 13 a minute into the final period. Los Angeles got as close as three points after a 3-pointer by Erica Wheeler with 7.4 seconds left but could claw no closer.

Marina Mabrey hit for 16 points off the bench for Dallas, with Allisha Gray scoring 12.

Te'a Cooper led all scorers with 24 points while Wheeler scored 22 and Nneka Ogwumike had 18 points and 10 rebounds for the Sparks. Only seven players saw action for short-handed Los Angeles, and by the end the Sparks ran out of gas.

-- Kelsey Plum rallies Aces past Mercury --

Kelsey Plum scored 23 points and Jackie Young made a tip-in with 4.3 seconds left to lift the visiting Las Vegas Aces to an 84-83 victory over the Phoenix Mercury in the regular-season finale for both teams Sunday afternoon.

Plum scored 13 straight points to rally the Aces before Young broke the streak with her tip. Ji-Su Park blocked Brianna Turner's shot to preserve the victory for the Aces (24-8).

Riquna Williams scored 13 points and Chelsea Gray and Dearica Hamby had 12 each for the second-seeded Aces, who have a double-bye into the semifinals of the playoffs. All-Star center Liz Cambage returned from a five-game absence due to COVID-19 protocols and had four points and four rebounds in 9 1/2 minutes.

Skylar Diggins-Smith scored 17 points, Kia Nurse had 14, Sophie Cunningham added 12 and Kia Vaughn, Shey Peddy and Bria Hartley had 10 each for the Mercury (19-13), who made just one field goal in the final 4:05 and watched Las Vegas score the final nine points.

Fifth-seeded Phoenix, which has lost three straight after a 10-gme winning streak, will host the eighth seed in a one-game playoff Thursday night.

Diana Taurasi missed her fourth consecutive game due to an ankle injury, but the Mercury hope to have her back for the playoffs.

-- Sun conclude regular season with 14th straight win --

Natisha Hiedeman scored 16 points off the bench Sunday to lead three players in double figures as the Connecticut Sun set a WNBA record in their 84-64 win over the Atlanta Dream in Uncasville, Conn.

MVP candidate Jonquel Jones added 15 points, 10 rebounds and four assists for Connecticut (26-6), which won its 14th straight game, the longest streak to end a season in league history. Brionna Jones contributed 14 points and 12 rebounds, and Jasmine Thomas chipped in 10 points.

Courtney Williams scored a game-high 18 points and grabbed seven rebounds for Atlanta (8-24), which also got 14 points from Monique Billings.

But the Dream made just 38.4 percent of their shots, including a miserable 2 of 20 on 3-pointers, and were outrebounded 50-33.

The Sun now have a nine-day break before starting their semifinal series at home on Sept. 28. 

By virtue of having the best regular-season record, they earned a double-bye into the semifinals and have homecourt advantage throughout the postseason.

-- Playoff-bound Sky end season on high note, beat Fever -- 

Diamond DeShields matched a career high with 30 points off the bench, and the Chicago Sky concluded the regular season with a victory going into the playoffs, 98-87 over the visiting Indiana Fever on Sunday.

Allie Quigley scored 15, Kahleah Copper 13 and reserve Astou Ndour-Fall 12 for the Sky (16-16), who will be the sixth seed in the postseason but had dropped four of their past five games. Chicago shot 49.3 percent from the field and used a 28-point third quarter to tire a depleted Indiana squad that played just six players.

Kelsey Mitchell scored a season-high 32 and Emma Cannon added 19 for the Fever (6-26), who -- despite sitting last in the overall WNBA standings and ending their season with a seventh straight loss -- shot 47.8 percent from the field and didn't make things easy for the Sky.

Chicago was behind 56-53 with 6:23 left in the left quarter when it began a 21-9 spurt that lasted the rest of the period to take control. DeShields, who went 8-of-13 from the field, tied the game with a 3 and recorded a layup after Candace Parker gave the Sky a two-point edge.

A Mitchell basket made the score 60-60, but DeShields gave Chicago the lead for good with a bucket at the 3:48 mark of the third. The Sky scored seven of the final eight points of the period, and Ndour-Fall opened the fourth with a basket to put the hosts ahead 77-65.

Indiana trailed 35-33 early in the second quarter, but back-to-back 3s from Mitchell sparked a 9-0 run that put the visitors up 42-35. However, the Sky regrouped and fought back with a 7-0 run, fueled by three straight points from DeShields, to tie the game at 42-42. The teams ended the first half locked at 46.

Six different players scored in the first quarter for Indiana, which hit 11 of its 21 shots in the period to take a 24-22 lead after the first 10 minutes.