WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. (AP) — The New York Liberty clinched the best chance to win the WNBA draft lottery by losing to Indiana 86-81 on Friday night.
New York, which has a 44% opportunity to secure the top pick in the draft, blew a double-digit lead as Kelsey Mitchell scored 22 points to lead the Fever. The Liberty are 16-51 over the past two years and Indiana is 18-49.
Indiana, by finishing with the second-worst two-year record, will have a 27% chance to get the No. 1 pick.
The Fever had the best chance to win the lottery last year and ended up with the No. 3 pick. Having a lower pick turned out well as Indiana drafted Teaira McCowan, who has been stellar in her rookie year. McCowan had 14 points and 13 rebounds for the Fever (12-21). With the victory, Indiana doubled their win total from last season.
Trailing by double-digits in the second half, the Fever rallied behind Mitchell and McCowan.
Candice Dupree’s jumper with 1:25 left gave Indiana its first lead of the fourth quarter. After Tanisha Wright missed a jumper, Mitchell hit a layup to extend the lead to 84-81 with 53 seconds left. Dupree and Mitchell each added a free throw in the final 25 seconds and New York (9-24) could get no closer. The Liberty were outscored 21-7 in the fourth quarter.
It was a back and forth first half with New York’s reserves playing well once again. Johannes had 10 points and Brittany Boyd had six points, six assists and four rebounds in the opening 20 minutes. The Liberty led 49-43 at the break.
Tina Charles led New York with 19 points, and Marine Johannes added 16.
HONORING T-SPOON: The Liberty wore warmup shirts for Teresa Weatherspoon, who is the Director of Player and Franchise Development for the team. Weatherspoon was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame on Friday night. The shirts had a list of her accomplishments on the back and a graphic on the front.
Fever: host Connecticut on Sunday to close out their season
Liberty: visit Atlanta on Sunday to close out their season.