Alana Beard had 23 points and nine rebounds last night to help the Washington Mystics lock up a playoff spot with a 74-67 road victory over the Phoenix Mercury.
Washington (17-16) overcame an 11-point halftime deficit to win its fifth in a row and seventh in 10 games without Chamique Holdsclaw, who ended her season on Sept. 8 because of an undisclosed medical problem.
Chasity Melvin added 15 points and 11 rebounds, her first double-double of the season, for Washington, which clinched the postseason berth earlier in the evening with Charlotte's loss to San Antonio.
Diana Taurasi had 25 points for Phoenix, which lost its fourth straight.
The Mercury (16-17) is on the brink of playoff elimination. With the loss, they fell a half-game behind Sacramento for the fourth and final postseason spot in the Western Conference. Phoenix needs the Monarchs to lose their remaining two games -- both at home against the Houston Comets and Minnesota Lynx -- and the Mercury must beat Houston on Sunday.
The Monarchs would win a tiebreaker if both teams end up with identical 17-17 records.
Washington, which enjoyed a 36-29 rebounding advantage, went on a 14-2 run to take a 57-50 lead with 8:53 left. Phoenix never got closer then four the rest of the way.
The Mercury scored the last eight points of the first half to take a 39-28 lead at the break.
* SILVER STARS 82, STING 65: Adrienne Goodson and LaToya Thomas each scored 22 points to help San Antonio prevent visiting Charlotte from clinching a playoff spot.
The Sting (16-17) dropped into a tie with the Detroit Shock for the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. The two teams will meet in Detroit on Sunday on the last day of the regular season.
The Silver Stars used a 21-7 run midway through the second half to break open a close game. Thomas had 12 points during the run, capping it with a three-point play with eight minutes to play.
Charlotte Smith-Taylor led the Sting -- 2-9 in its last 11 road games -- with 14 points.
The Silver Stars finished with a 9-25 record.
* LIBERTY 69, SUN 66: In Uncasville, Conn., Crystal Robinson scored a season-high 22 points and paced a 12-0 run that helped New York gain a playoff berth.
Robinson made 7 of 12 shots, including four of New York's nine three-pointers.
The Liberty erased a four-point halftime deficit with seven three-pointers after the break. Robinson hit consecutive threes to start the crucial run, and Elena Baranova and Shameka Christon had one apiece to give the Liberty a 37-35 lead with 15:41 remaining.
Lindsay Whalen led Connecticut with 16 points. The Sun, already in the playoffs, was trying to win the Eastern Conference title for the first time in the franchise's six-year history. The teams are tied for the top spot and each has one game left.