Liberty keep alive playoff hopes with 91-80 win over Mystics

Sports

NEW YORK (AP)Natasha Howard scored 24 points, Sabrina Ionescu added 22 and the New York Liberty keep alive their playoff hopes with a 91-80 victory over the Washington Mystics on Friday night.

The Liberty (12-20) need Washington to lose to Minnesota on Sunday and have Los Angeles lose at Dallas that day as well. The Liberty, who snapped an eight-game losing skid, hold the tiebreaker by virtue of having a better record against the two other teams.

Washington (12-19) would get the No. 8 seed with a win Sunday. New York is trying to avoid missing the playoff for a fourth consecutive season.

Washington was missing coach Mike Thibault, who is in COVID-19 protocols. He’ll also miss the team’s final game Sunday against Minnesota. His son, Eric, coached the game in his absence.

Betnijah Laney got on the mic before the game and ask the crowd to provide energy for the team and the Liberty faithful responded. new York jumped out to a 26-15 after one quarter as Howard had 11 points, making all five of her shots.

New York kept it up in the second quarter extending the advantage to 20 on Rebecca Allen’s 3-pointer with 2:28 left in the half. That was New York’s 317th of the season to set a WNBA record, passing Washington’s mark set in 2019.

The Liberty, who finished the season with 321 3s, connected on seven of their 11 3-point attempts in the first half and led 46-29 at the break.

The lead expanded to 24 before Washington rallied to cut it to 79-74 with 5:03 left. New York scored eight of the next 10 points to put the game away.

Ariel Atkins scored 29 points to lead Washington.

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