Liberty stay alive in playoff hunt


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.

ACES 103, SKY 70

CHICAGO (AP) – Riquna Williams scored 22 points, Kelsey Plum added 20 and the Las Vegas Aces used a big run to close the first half to rout the Sky and clinch the second seed for the WNBA playoffs.

Dearica Hamby added 17 for Las Vegas (23-8), which will have a double bye into the semifinals when the playoffs begin next week. Chicago (15-16) was locked into the six seed and will host the seventh-seed in a first-round game on Thursday.

The Aces closed the first half with a 25-4 run over the last 5:45 for a 61-39 lead. They didn’t slow down much in the second half, finishing the game making 9 of 18 3-pointers and shooting 56% overall, with 32 assists on 41 baskets.

Candace Parker scored 20 points for the Sky.


INDIANAPOLIS (AP) – Sylvia Fowles scored 21 points and grabbed 10 rebounds and the Minnesota Lynx pulled away in the second half for a win over the Fever, clinching a first-round bye in the WNBA playoffs.

Minnesota (21-10) has won 16 of 19 games en route to securing a top four seed as the playoffs begin next week. Indiana (6-25) will finish with the worst record in the league and clinched the best chance at winning the draft lottery.

The Lynx were up seven midway through the third quarter before closing with a 13-4 run to lead 70-54. The Fever, playing their third game in six days with only seven players available, never threatened in the fourth quarter.

Kelsey Mitchell matched her season high with 26 points and with nine field goals.


EVERETT, Wash. (AP) – Jewell Loyd tied a WNBA record with 22 points in the first quarter and finished with a career-high 37 to help the Storm secure a first-round bye in the WNBA playoffs with a win over the Mercury.

Seattle (21-11) will be the third or fourth seed, depending on how the Minnesota Lynx fare on Sunday, the last day of the regular season. The Mercury (19-12) will be the fifth-seed and host the still-to-be-determined No. 8 in a first-round game on Thursday.

Loyd tied the record Diana Taurasi, who sat out this game with an injury, set in 2006 for points in a quarter and tied by Brittney Sykes in 2019 for most points in a quarter. It is the most points by a WNBA player in the first quarter.

In the second quarter, highlighted by Brittney Griner’s 17th career dunk for the Mercury, Loyd was fouled on a desperation heave as time ran out and made three free throws, giving her 28 points and Seattle a 61-47 lead.

Despite building the lead to 22 points, the Storm couldn’t put the Mercury away. A steal and breakaway layup by Shey Peddy was the end of a 20-4 run cut the deficit to 89-83 with 1:25 to go. The Mercury scored again after a Seattle shot clock violation before Loyd’s three-point play with 47.2 seconds to go decided the issue.

Griner had 26 points and 13 rebounds for her 16th double-double. Peddy added 17 for Phoenix.

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