Storm secured his place in the play-off with a close victory over the Washington Mystics

Tina Charles’ last WNBA playoff was on September 10, 2017. Charles led the New York Liberty with 18 points, but her team was upset by the Washington Mestics in the second round by a singles elimination.

After Saturday’s game against those same mystics, Charles discovered that the Seattle Storm had sealed a place for the seventh consecutive season. Her tears immediately.

“I know for these people, it’s something that always happens to them,” said Charles, who signed a contract with Seattle in late June. “But then you have a player like me – bounce back and just try to win.

“I am very grateful to have the opportunity to work with this organization. I do not take anything for granted.”

The Storm withstood a frantic Mystics campaign to win 82-77, a potential playoff preview that has implications for the local stadiums advantage at the Entertainment & Sports Arena in Washington, DC.

Seattle argued there was a heated debate and a fake timeout call with 22.8 seconds remaining. Coach Noel Quinn and veteran Sue Bird protested their unwillingness, but the team had no choice but to go ahead and use it.

“It was a mess, frankly,” Quinn said. “It’s a big call. She’s in the midst of a big match.”

From there, the storm shut down Elena Delle Donne’s drive. Breanna Stewart’s free throw lifted the Seattle treble, and Ariel Atkins’ gaze from behind the arc shaped the edge.

Seattle (19-11) won the series season. The Storm took the first meeting 85-71 and the teams will meet again on Sunday afternoon.

The Storm and Mystics entered the game with a 18-11 record match and were locked in the middle of the field for 4th and 5th place, respectively.

“We’re through that storm,” Stewart said. “We kept playing. Despite all that — the mixing up of timeouts, things like that — we were able to get stops when we needed them and make free throws.”

Washington brought in a stifling defense and an early delay, and Seattle didn’t take the lead until the final three minutes of the first half. Delle Donne (highest level in the game with 22 points, three shots blocked) against Stewart and the WNBA leader’s Palace Mystics stuck in points per game (21.1) to seven points in the first half.

Charles (16 points, nine rebounds) got hot as Storm trimmed his nine-point delay. The two teams went to the end of the first half tied at 35. Charles reached double points just over a minute after play resumed. Her jump shot was blocked but she stuck it out and tried again.

Towards the end of the third quarter, technical errors were called to the Mystics as Storm went to a wide open layup — one on the bench and one on coach Mike Tybolt, per ESPN. Washington emerged from this blazing confusion and brought Chaturi Walker Kimbrough back to Washington again.

After a disappointing outing in Connecticut, the Seattle bench led the way for a critical tour on Saturday. Back-to-back thefts and transfers from Epiphany Prince increased the storm by 10 minutes in the fourth quarter. Stephanie Talbot hit in time three. Azi Magbegor turned six rebounds with a crack shot and a steal.

“They are of great value to what we do and are key to our success,” Quinn said.

Atkins’ three pointers brought the Mystics closer, 74-69, with just over two minutes remaining. Jewell Lloyd created and kept Seattle’s seven-point lead by a bit before Alicia Clarke made him a one-point contender again.

“You don’t want to lose the lead. You don’t want to flip it late. You don’t want to make mistakes late.” It’s not necessarily perfect, but I think it’s important for this particular team.”

Washington on Saturday entered a three-game winning streak after shooting 56.4% from the field in an 87-77 victory over Dallas on Thursday. Storm was exiting from an 88-83 loss against the Sun, which delayed Charles’ post-season guarantee by two more days.

Expected from Seattle now. But as she wiped her eyes, Charles noticed how special she was.

“I love it for her,” Quinn said.

Result square