Courtney Vandersloot scored 20 points to help the Chicago Sky beat Washington 77-58 on Saturday night, handing the last-place Mystics their 13th straight loss.
Epiphanny Prince added 12 points for the Sky (14-20), who had a season-low 23 points in the first half and a season-high 54 in the second half. Swin Cash and Sonja Petrovic added 10 points each.
“We wanted to see the third quarter as a new start and forget that first quarter,” Vandersloot said.
Sky center Carolyn Swords agreed, adding the team wasn’t worried after the poor first half.
“I think we knew that everything going on was in our control and if we just focused on one pass at a time we’d be in good shape,” Swords said.
Veteran point guard Ticha Penicheiro was scoreless with two assists in about 11 minutes in the final game of her 15-year career. Penicheiro, the league’s all-time leader in assists and No. 2 in steals, spent 12 seasons with Sacramento and two with Los Angeles before joining Chicago this season.
“I only played here this year, but the way the fans embraced my retirement made me feel really humble,” Penicheiro said. “Everyone worked really hard to make it all right, and to see me off in a good way. It was an amazing ceremony. I was trying not to cry. .. I don’t think it has truly hit me yet. It feels like this has been a dream and not really happening.”
Chicago was without Olympic center Sylvia Fowles (strained calf).
Monique Currie scored 15 points and Jasmine Thomas had 12 for the Mystics (5-29), who finished one game worse than last season. Washington’s .147 winning percentage was the second-worst in franchise history, only better than the .100 (3-27) in its inaugural season in 1998.
“Our biggest lesson is how to overcome adversity,” Mystics Coach and General Manager Trudi Lacey said. “I think they were a courageous group with big hearts. They persevered through injuries and tough losses.”
The Mystics, who last won Aug. 19 in overtime at home against Chicago, were without leading scorer Crystal Langhorne (foot).
Currie scored 11 points in the first half to help the Mystics take a 28-23 lead at the break.
“I felt like we always fought hard,” Currie said. “We may not have fought smart all the time, but we continued to work individually and hope that we take this time off to ourselves and get better as a team.”
●LIBERTY 91, SHOCK 74: Plenette Pierson had 19 points, eight rebounds and five assists as host New York defeated Tulsa at the Prudential Center, closing out the regular season for the home team.
Essence Carson, who left with an apparent leg injury in the fourth quarter, and Cappie Pondexter combined for 35 points, as New York finished 15-19 overall, and 9-8 at home. The Liberty will take on Connecticut in the first round of the playoffs.
Ivory Latta had 16 points and six rebounds for the Shock, a rebuilding team that is now 9-24 overall. Tulsa has had major problems on the road this season, and Saturday was no different. The Shock are now just 3-13 away from home, with one more game to go. Tulsa led by 10 at the half, and received 14 points, four rebounds and four assists from Riquna Williams.
The win snapped a two-game losing skid for the Liberty and set the stage for their opening-round playoff series. They will meet the Sun in Connecticut on Thursday. It is a best-of-3 set.
The Liberty secured a playoff berth earlier in the week, and that may have been the cause of a slow start vs. the Shock. On Thursday, when Chicago was eliminated with a loss to Atlanta, New York clinched a spot despite a below-.500 record.
“We need to go into the playoffs feeling good,” Pondexter said during the week. “We need to give our fans something as we head in to the playoffs.”
They did so in the second half, outscoring the Shock by 27 points. The Liberty finished with four players in scoring double figures, including Kia Vaughn (14), who also had nine rebounds.
The Shock close out the season Sunday at Indiana.