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Mystics Edge Out Liberty 90-88 in Thrilling Regular Season Finale, Setting Stage for WNBA Playoff Showdown

A late-game rally falls short as Washington Mystics’ Brittney Sykes scores buzzer-beater.

In a gripping back-and-forth that kept fans on the edge of their seats, the Washington Mystics (19-21) defeated the New York Liberty (32-8) in the Women's National Basketball Association regular-season finale, 90-88.

After a game-saving block from Breanna Stewart left 0.5 seconds on the clock, Brittney Sykes scored on an inbounds pass from Natasha Cloud to win the game. With the Liberty loss and the Aces’ win at home over the Phoenix Mercury yesterday, the Liberty will enter the playoffs as the number two overall seed. 

The game was a tale of runs, with the lead changing five times throughout the course of the game. The Liberty, who came into the game boasting a conference-leading 32-7 record, started strong with a 14-6 run in the first quarter. Sabrina Ionescu and Jonquel Jones led the charge, setting the tone for what seemed to be another dominant win.

A recovery from the Mystics left the game tied at the half, and a 21-9 run late in the third quarter shifted momentum decisively in Washington’s favor. However, the Liberty displayed grit and confidence, roaring back with a 16-4 run in the final quarter.

All-Star guard Ionescu put on a show for the Liberty, scoring 20 points and making 4-of-6 attempts from the 3-point line. She also added 7 rebounds and 7 assists to her stat line.

Jones was just one rebound short of a double-double, finishing with 19 points on 61.5% shooting and nine rebounds. Despite Stewart’s late-game heroics, the WNBA's potential Most Valuable Player of 2023 struggled from the floor, shooting 4-of-17 from the field and missing all six of her 3-point attempts.​

New York Liberty head coach Sandy Brondello calls a timeout in the waning seconds of a game against the Washington Mystics. Photo: Dustin Lin for BK Reader.

​The Liberty struggled from beyond the arc, shooting just 32.4% (12 out of 37), well below their league-leading season average of 37.4%.

For the Mystics, Brittney Sykes was the star of the night. She matched Ionescu's 20 points and contributed significantly with rebounding and playmaking, finishing with seven rebounds and six assists. Her all-around play was crucial in securing the win for Washington.

As the WNBA playoffs begin, the Liberty will host the Mystics on Friday, Sept. 15, at 7:30pm, in the opener of their 2023 WNBA Playoffs.

While New York enters the series as the clear favorite, this game served as a reminder of the elite talent at every level of the league and a warning that even the best teams cannot rest on their laurels in the playoffs.