Washington will face the victor of Tuesday's late Game 5 in the other semifinal between the Phoenix Mercury and Seattle Storm.
ATLANTA (AP) - The Washington Mystics overcame a quiet night from Elena Delle Donne to earn a trip to the WNBA Finals for the first time in franchise history, holding off the Atlanta Dream 86-81 in the decisive fifth game of their semifinal series Tuesday night.
The first half was a back-and-forth offensive show, even though Delle Donne was limited to four points.
But Delle Donne then got a hard up-and-under jumper to fall, providing Washington with an 80-73 lead with 1:41 left. Renee Montgomery fouled out, depriving Atlanta of a much-needed 3-point threat in the closing seconds. She did make a big jumper with 1:41 remaining, and sealed the victory with four straight free throws in the closing seconds.
But the Dream finished the period on a high. The Mystics had been so close to a 2-0 semifinal series lead against the Dream.
LaToya Sanders added 13 points and Aerial Powers had 10 for Washington (15-11). The lead changed hands eight more times - to go along with three ties - before the Dream settled for a 50-49 halftime edge.
Washington had possession with the shot clock turned off in the final seconds of the quarter, but rather than hold for the last shot, Delle Donne missed a three-pointer and the Dream collected the rebound.
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Delle Donne scored 14 points, far below the 24.7 she was averaging in the series despite missing Game 3 with a knee injury.
Collen and her players were not happy with the way the game was called - especially in the fourth quarter.
An MRI exam the following morning in Washington revealed a bone bruise but no ligament damage. She sat out Friday's Game 3, which the Dream won 81-76, but she played in Sunday's Game 4, which the Mystics won 97-76.
There was a possibility Delle Donne wouldn't even play again this season, after an injury scare in Game 2 threatened to end her.
Forward Ariel Atkins picked up the slack offensively down low, dropping 20 points and going 8-of-8 from the free throw line. Montgomery and Brittney Sykes had 15 points each for the Dream.
Toliver missed a layup at the first-quarter buzzer but became the Mystics' best scoring option in the second quarter, making a pair of three-pointers during a stretch in which she had 10 of her team's 12 points.
Under the new format implemented in 2016, Washington has made the best-of-five semifinals two years in a row.
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