Natasha Cloud scored 19 points, Ariel Atkins added 12, including five key points late in the fourth quarter, and the Washington Mystics nearly blew a 28-point lead before holding on for a 71-65 victory over the Seattle Storm on Sunday.
Washington used a big first half to take control, before Seattle nearly rallied on the day the Storm retired Sue Bird’s No. 10 jersey.
After the Mystics went scoreless for more than six minutes of the fourth quarter, Atkins got a favorable bounce on a baseline jumper with 3:40 left. She added a 3-pointer moments later and the Mystics led 68-62 with 3 minutes left. Those would be Washington’s only two made baskets of the quarter.
Ivana Dojkic was fouled shooting a 3 for Seattle and hit all three free throws. The foul was also called a flagrant 1 and Seattle kept possession, but Kia Nurse missed an open 3 that would have tied the game.
Jewell Loyd missed a couple of good chances for Seattle to trim the lead or pull even and Cloud’s free throws with 14 seconds left finally put away the game. Seattle missed its last six shots and did not score in the final 2 1/2 minutes.
Washington’s Elena Delle Donne did not play because of tightness in her neck. Loyd returned to Seattle’s lineup after missing Friday’s game with a foot injury.
Washington had a 27-3 run in the first and second quarters to take a 32-10 lead. Washington’s lead grew to as many as 28 in the first half before settling for a 46-21 advantage at the break.
The Storm got within 14 points late in the third quarter, but Washington closed out the period with a 7-0 run to lead 63-42 heading to the fourth quarter. The Storm’s 21-point third quarter matched their first-half total and their 17-0 run got them within four points before Atkins scored for the Mystics.
Loyd led Seattle with 16 points but was 6 for 22 from the field. Ezi Magbegor scored 13, Nurse and Dojkic 12 apiece and Jordan Horston 10.
Shakira Austin added 11 points and nine rebounds for Washington.
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