NEW YORK — Kristi Toliver scored 32 points, hitting a WNBA playoff-record nine 3-pointers, to lead the Washington Mystics to an 82-68 victory over the New York Liberty on Sunday.
The Mystics will face the Lynx with Game 1 of the best-of-five series in Minnesota on Tuesday night. This is as far as the Mystics have gone in the playoffs since 2002 — the last time they made it out of the opening round of the postseason.
Washington found itself down 13 points in the first half before rallying to 41-35 at the break. Then Toliver took over. She scored 16 points in the third quarter, hitting all four of her 3-pointers in the period. She could only shrug and smile as the fourth one went in to give the Mystics a 57-46 advantage with 2:48 left in the third. She set the Mystics franchise record for points in a game by the end of the third quarter.
That 3-pointer, her eighth, also broke the previous WNBA record for 3-pointers made in a playoff game.
New York could never recover.
The Liberty were led by Tina Charles, who had 18 points. It’s the second consecutive season that New York was a three-seed and lost its first postseason game.
The Mystics came into the season with high expectations after trading for Elena Delle Donne and signing Toliver as a free agent. Coach Mike Thibault knew it might take some time for his team to gain chemistry with so many faces. It didn’t help that the team faced a series of injuries throughout the season, including time missed by Delle Donne to an ankle injury and then a torn ligament in her left thumb.
Toliver broke the three-point record originally set by Mwadi Mabika of Los Angeles in 2000 and matched by Diana Taurasi twice as well as Becky Hammon and Deanna Nolan.
Toliver topped the previous franchise record for points in a playoff game set by Chamique Holdsclaw in 2002 when she had 26.
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