The surging Minnesota Lynx aim to lock up the third seed in the WNBA playoffs in Sunday's regular season finale against the host Washington Mystics.
Minnesota (21-10) moved ahead of the reigning league champion Seattle Storm after posting its eighth win in the last nine games, a 92-73 rout of the Indiana Fever on Friday. Sylvia Fowles led the way with 21 points and 10 rebounds for the Lynx.
"Extremely proud of these young women, just putting their bodies out there on the line to just get it get done any way they can," Fowles said of her team. "Just from the start to now, to see where we've come from, I'm very excited. I'm very proud."
Minnesota opened the season with four straight losses while dealing with a variety of personnel issues, including Napheesa Collier's quarantine while returning from playing in France. Aerial Powers only recently returned from thumb surgery, but has provided a reliable scoring punch during the Lynx's late-season charge.
"We wanted to make sure we could control our own destiny," Lynx coach Cheryl Reeve said in her postgame press conference. "Everything we got, we had to really earn."
While Minnesota clinched a first-round bye Friday, Washington (12-19) failed to lock up the final berth in the playoffs. The Mystics dropped a 91-80 decision to New York, one of three teams along with Los Angeles vying for the No. 8 seed.
"We didn't come in ready to play," Natasha Cloud told the Washington Post. "We didn't come in ready for the game scheme. And we didn't buy in completely. That's frustrating when our season is on the line."
Tina Charles has had an MVP-caliber season for the Mystics, averaging a league-leading 23.7 points per game in addition to 9.4 rebounds. Washington, however, has struggled to find consistency amid a rash of injuries.
Former league MVP Elena Delle Donne returned from a nearly two-year absence in August before going back to the sideline after just three games.
Washington is just 2-4 in its last six games, including a 93-75 loss to Minnesota on Sept. 4.
--Field Level Media