Friday, September 9 – 4:00 p.m. PT
Verizon Center | Washington, D.C.
WNBA League Pass
Seattle (13-17) is tied with Phoenix in the seventh playoff spot with four games to go, but Washington (12-17) can leapfrog the Storm with a victory on Friday. The winner of Friday’s game will own the head-to-head tiebreaker for playoff seeding, as the teams split their first two meetings of the season. Against Phoenix, the Storm holds the tiebreaker and the Mystics do not.
In the first meeting this year, Washington won in overtime at KeyArena after the Storm erased a 16-point deficit to force the extra frame. Almost two months later, it was a lopsided game in favor of Seattle, an 80-51 result that represents the largest win of the season and the largest margin of victory against the Mystics in franchise history. Overall, the Storm has won nine of the last 12 matchups.
Both the Storm and Mystics had historic offensive performances in their victories on Wednesday. Seattle won 102-78 at Madison Square Garden, reaching 100 points for the first time since 2012 and snapping an eight-game losing streak against the Liberty. Three players scored more than 20 points for Seattle – Jewell Loyd had 25, Breanna Stewart 23 and Crystal Langhorne 21. The Mystics defeated Chicago 118-81, setting new franchise records for points and three-pointers (16). Washington also had a season-high 33 assists on Wednesday.
As the common sports adage goes, you want to be peaking at the very end of the season. The Storm has certainly been playing its best basketball after the Olympic break: In the last six games, Seattle is 4-2 and ranks second in the league in points (86.3 per game), first in assists (21.0) and fifth in points allowed (80.3). According to WNBA.com, the Storm has the second-best net rating in that span, which combines offensive and defensive ratings.
Veteran forward Crystal Langhorne returned to the starting lineup on Wednesday after missing one game due to injury, and she scored a season-high 21 points on 10-of-12 shooting. Langhorne, who ranks among the all-time leaders in field goal percentage, went 5-of-5 in the third quarter to help Seattle maintain a sizeable advantage. The former All-Star is shooting a career-high 63.3 percent this year, ranking third in the league and seventh all-time.
Both teams’ starting shooting guards have been on a tear as of late. Since the Olympic break, Seattle’s Jewell Loyd is averaging 20.5 points, 4.8 assists, 4.2 rebounds and 2.2 steals in six games. Tayler Hill, in her fourth year with the Mystics, is averaging 21 points since the break. In their loss at KeyArena in July, Hill was held to three points on 1-of-6 shooting.
- The Mystics recently signed guard Leilani Mitchell, who grew up in the state of Washington and attended Kennewick High School. Mitchell previously spent the 2015 season with Phoenix after six years with the Liberty. She represented Australia at the Olympics this summer, averaging 11.3 points and 4.5 assists per game. In five games for the Mystics thus far, Mitchell is averaging 7.6 points.
- For Washington, guard Ivory Latta (knee) and forward LaToya Sanders (foot) both missed the Chicago game on Wednesday and did not practice on Thursday. Latta also missed the team’s first four games of the year while recovering from offseason knee surgery. A two-time All-Star, Latta has led Washington in scoring every year since she joined the team in 2013.