Mystics build big lead, barely hold off Sky

Natasha Cloud made two free throws with six seconds to play to help rescue the Washington Mystics in an 84-82 victory against the visiting Chicago Sky on Wednesday night.

Ariel Atkins poured in 19 points and Alysha Clark notched 18 points as the Mystics overcame the loss of a key player.

Shakira Austin scored eight of her 14 points in the game’s opening 6 1/2 minutes, helping the Mystics set the tone. Cloud ended up with 11 points.

Chicago’s Candace Parker produced a three-point play to knot the score at 82-82 with 27.9 seconds to play, capping a comeback from a 17-point, second-half deficit. However, her attempt to tie the score again in the final second on a contested shot in the lane was off the mark.

Washington (8-5) prevailed despite limited contributions from forward Elena Delle Donne, who has played off and on this season as her physical condition has been monitored. She logged just seven minutes, departing with what was described as lower back tightness after posting two points on 1-for-6 shooting.

Parker had 16 points, Kahleah Copper and Rebekah Gardner added 12 points apiece and Allie Quigley and Azura Stevens both tallied 11 points for the Sky (7-4), who had a three-game winning streak snapped.

Atkins was 8-for-12 from the field, Clark shot 7-for-9 and Austin went 5-for-6.

The Mystics, who snapped a two-game skid, had coach Mike Thibault back on the sideline after he missed time because of COVID health and safety protocol.

Washington won despite shooting 3-for-16 on 3-point attempts. The Mystics received a boost by outscoring Chicago 17-10 at the free-throw line.

The Mystics led 45-40 at halftime. Chicago scored only six points in the first 7 1/2 minutes of the third quarter, allowing Washington to build a 63-46 advantage.

Chicago pulled within 75-66 with just less than six minutes remaining. Cloud responded with a 3-point basket for Washington.

After pulling within 78-70, the Sky missed their next three shots. Then Chicago’s Emma Meesseman scored on a drive, Quigley bagged a 3-pointer and Copper scored on the next possession, cutting the gap to 80-77 with 1:40 left. Each team then sank two free throws.

With 43.9 seconds to play, Quigley’s potential tying 3-pointer was off the mark.

–Field Level Media

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