- The Washington Times - Sunday, September 8, 2019

The Chicago Sky had everything to play for. The Washington Mystics had everything locked up.

That didn’t stop the Mystics from deciding to push Chicago around on the final day of the WNBA regular season.

Elena Delle Donne rang up 25 points, 11 rebounds and three blocks and Tianna Hawkins added 24 points and nine boards as the Mystics stomped out the Sky 100-86 in Sunday’s regular season finale.

The Mystics already had clinched the No. 1 seed and postseason home-court advantage on Friday, when they beat Dallas and second-place Connecticut lost. With Sunday’s win, they finished the regular season 26-8, the same record the Seattle Storm owned last year as they marched on to win the WNBA championship.

The Mystics will host Games 1 and 2 of their WNBA semifinal series on Sept. 17 and 19. The first two rounds of single-elimination games will determine their opponent.

With a win and some help, the Sky could have improved their playoff seeding and earned a first-round bye. Instead, they finished the year 20-14 and remained in fifth position.

Washington used 11-0 and 7-0 runs and seven offensive rebounds to establish an 11-point advantage after one. It grew to a 56-30 halftime lead as Delle Donne reached 20 points and six rebounds in 17 minutes on the floor.

Chicago center Astou Ndour was ejected in the second quarter, despite her team’s protests, for making incidental contact with official Kevin Fahy after a play.

Late in the third period, the Sky posted a 9-0 run against Washington’s second-string unit, bringing the game within six — the closest it got all day. The Mystics responded by running off 13 unanswered points across the end of the third and the start of the fourth. Five apiece came from Hawkins and Aerial Powers, helping them eventually slam the proverbial door.

It was a postseason tune-up for the Mystics, who have won their last six.

“We just need to play people,” Thibault said. “Everybody was saying, ‘Well, you rest your people.’ If we had rested our people, they would all have had 11 days without a game.”

Hawkins, who tied a season high with her 24, has rested occasional games down the stretch to go easy on a sore knee.

“I had a few days where I was able to rest, but coming back, the first thing I did yesterday was get in the gym and got my shots up,” Hawkins said. “That’s going to be the biggest thing for everyone — just trying to stay in our rhythm and to keep on doing what we do best.”

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