In the most staggering example of why the WNBA playoffs should do away with the single-elimination early rounds, the No. 5-seeded Phoenix Mercury pulled out an 83-82 win Thursday night in a back-and-forth game against the No. 8 New York Liberty at GCU Arena in Phoenix.
New York’s Sami Whitcomb fouled Phoenix’s Brianna Turner with 0.4 seconds remaining and the game tied at 82. Turner hit the second free throw, and the Liberty's Sabrina Ionescu missed a last-second 3-point heave to send the Mercury to the second round.
The Liberty (12-20), with the worst winning percentage for a team in WNBA postseason history, barely clinched a playoff berth after both the Washington Mystics and Los Angeles Sparks lost on the final day of the regular season. It was New York’s first postseason appearance since 2017. The Liberty won only two games last season.