Stewart helps Storm beat Mystics and clinch playoff berth


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 host Washington Mystics 82- 77 on Saturday and earn 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 – one game ahead of the fifth-place Mystics and 1 1/2 games behind Connecticut n No. 3 with about two weeks to go before the playoffs begin. The Storm have won the first two games of their three-game regular-season series with Washington, which will end when the teams meet again on Sunday.

Epiphanny Prince made two interceptions 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 push that took the score to 70-55 when Stefanie Talbot made a 3-pointer with 6:28 to play. Washington scored 14 of the next 18 to cut its deficit to five with 2 minutes left after Ariel Atkins hit a 3 and Alysha Clark made another 3 to shoot within a point with 26.3 seconds remaining. After an inadvertent whistle by an official, Seattle called time out and Talbot threw out the ensuing inbound pass, but Ezi Magbegor forced Washington’s Elena Delle Donne into a tough shot with 14.9 seconds left.

Stewart grabbed the offensive rebound and the Storm held on.

Washington (18-12) had won three in a row and five of its last 6.

Delle Donne led the Mystics with 22 points and Atkins had 13. Shakira Austin added 10 points and 10 rebounds and Natasha Cloud had 10 points and 11 assists.

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