WASHINGTON (AP) — Tayler Hill scored a career-high-tying 16 points to help the Washington Mystics beat the New York Liberty 70-52 on Sunday and clinch the third playoff seed in the Eastern Conference.
Kia Vaughn scored 10 points and grabbed 12 rebounds for her second-straight double-double and her third of the season to help the Mystics split their four-game season series with New York
Ivory Latta added 12 points for Washington (17-17), which closed its season with three straight victories to finish a game ahead of fourth-place Indiana entering their first playoffs since 2010.
The Mystics will face second-seeded Atlanta in a three-game conference semifinal series. Washington split four games with the Dream during the regular season but lost four of five to top-seeded Chicago, which will now face Indiana in the other East semifinal.
Kelsey Bone scored 11 points and Toni Young added 10 for New York (11-23) in the final game for retiring teammate and seven-time WNBA All-Star Katie Smith.
The 39-year-old Smith had seven points and one 3-pointer in her final game. She finishes her career as the league’s second all-time leading scorer with 6,446 points and its leading 3-point shooter with and 904 made 3s.
Washington never trailed beyond the first quarter, but led by only two in the third before Latta and Hill each hit 3-pointers in an 8-0 stretch to push the Mystics lead to 41-31.
Hill hit two more 3s during the quarter, the latter under duress from the right-wing to make it 52-42 before New York’s Alex Montgomery responded with a leaner to close the quarter.
In the fourth quarter, Vaughn hit two inside baskets and a pair of foul shots to help the Mystics close the game on a 14-4.
Smith left the game with 36 seconds left to a standing ovation from both the home crowd and a large contingent of New York fans, who chanted “Ka-tie, Ka-tie” in the game’s final moments. Smith spent her 2010 season in Washington, the last time the Mystics qualified for the postseason.
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