Mystics beat Sun, clinch WNBA playoff spot

UNCASVILLE, Conn. (AP) — This win was a little extra special for Washington coach Mike Thibault.

Emma Meesseman had 16 points and seven rebounds, and the Mystics beat the Connecticut Sun 71-67 on Friday night to earn their second straight Eastern Conference playoff berth.

Thibault coached the Sun for 10 seasons, winning two Eastern Conference championships. He was fired in November 2012.

Washington hired Thibault less than a month later.

“Yeah, there is a little extra (satisfaction),” Thibault said. “You can’t help it. We were used to doing the playoffs here. When I left here, we left the second-youngest team. And I know everybody is talking about (Connecticut) being young now, but we were 25-9 with a young team (in 2012), and I would’ve liked to have seen that through.

“Yeah, it’s a little bit personal.”

Ivory Latta had 16 points for Washington (16-17) and rookie Bria Hartley scored 13.

Alex Bentley scored 16 and rookie Chiney Ogwumike added 13 points and eight rebounds for the Sun (12-21). They were without starting guards Katie Douglas (back) and Allison Hightower (knee).

The idle New York Liberty were eliminated from postseason contention, giving Connecticut two picks in the 2015 draft lottery. Besides their own, the Sun also have New York’s as part of a deal that sent All-Star center Tina Charles to the Liberty.

Connecticut didn’t want to earn that extra lottery pick this way, though.

“I was hoping that would happen on another night,” Sun coach Anne Donovan said. “That it would happen to New York on another night, and Washington (would) get to the playoffs on another night.

“At the end of the season, yeah, it gives us more flexibility, it gives us more options, but…”

Donovan didn’t finish her sentence.

Bentley’s 3-pointer cut the Mystics’ lead to 67-66 with 48 seconds left, but Monique Currie made all four of her free throws down the stretch and the Sun turned it over on their next two possessions.

“Man, this locker room is happy,” Latta said. “We got a win. It wasn’t pretty, but we got a win.”

Washington led by as much as 31-21 late in the second quarter, but couldn’t pull away from the Sun.

Ogwumike’s layup capped off a 10-0 run that pushed Connecticut ahead, 47-44, with 2 minutes, 16 seconds left in the third quarter.

Kia Vaughn’s layup gave the Mystics a 59-57 lead with over 4 minutes left that they never relinquished.

“I think anybody that’s been in this business long enough always has those teams where something happened,” Thibault said. “A player plays against teams they were traded from.

Thibault chuckled and added, “The problem is that I don’t get to shoot. I don’t get to foul anybody. I don’t get to do anything. You hope and you watch and you coach and hope that they do the right thing.”

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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