A wild 2020 season forced Washington Mystics head coach and general manager Mike Thibault to get creative at times. With injuries and opt-outs plaguing the defending champions, he knew he had to finesse their salary cap and roster constraints to build a full team. That was not only for them to make the playoffs this season, but to be in the best position for 2021.
On Aug. 17 the team waived 31-year-old, second-year player Shey Peddy to maximize roster space. Less than a month later Peddy, on the opposing team, ends Washington’s incredible season.
Playing with the Phoenix Mercury, the 5-foot-7 guard knocked down a game-winning buzzer-beating corner three to advance the Mercury to the Second Round of the playoffs.
A career 19% shooter from deep, Peddy hit the biggest shot as a professional for an 85-84 win over the Mystics.
"It's a bittersweet moment,” Shey Peddy said postgame. “A fairytale moment. I don't think you can write it up any better than that."
Peddy was drafted by the Indiana Fever back in 2012 but did not make a WNBA roster until the 2019 season with the Mystics. With players playing overseas, Washington needed someone to fill out the roster temporarily. She suited up and when the overseas players came back Peddy stayed with the team as a video and coaching intern.
She got a championship ring as a rookie at 30 years of age.
When Thibault released Peddy in August of this year, Thibault and the Mystics had the full intention of re-signing her. As one of the older players and, virtue of circumstance, one of the more experienced players in Washington’s system, she was valuable to the team.
“When we brought her here this summer, we liked her veteran demeanor and leadership,” Thibault said postgame. “She was a big part of what we did.”
After all, she was one of only six players who suited up for Washington in 2019 to head to the WNBA bubble in Bradenton, Fla.
Peddy was only released to create space for Thibault to bring on 2020 third-round pick Sug Sutton. To make all of the roster logistics work, Peddy had to be released but could be re-signed later. At the time there was a verbal agreement from both sides, but Peddy diverted from that and signed in Phoenix.
In the end, it is the Temple product that closed the book on the Mystics’ adversity-filled season.
Just to get to the playoffs was an arduous task for Washington. They won five of their final six contests to claim the final postseason spot after once sitting with a 4-12 record.
Against Phoenix, Washington seemed to be in control. They entered the final quarter with an 11-point lead with team leader Myisha Hines-Allen extremely limited on the bench with foul trouble. The rest of the team was playing great with Leilani Mitchell and Emma Meesseman providing most of the offense with Kiara Leslie and Ariel Atkins shutting down former MVP Diana Taurasi on the defensive.
A 17-0 run by the Mercury got back into it and gave them the lead. The Mystics offense went quiet and all the momentum was in Phoenix’s hands.
“Phoenix made a great comeback they outplayed us in the fourth quarter. It's what happens. It's a tough way to end the season,” Thibault said. “One of the tougher losses I've had since I've been in Washington just because I feel so bad for these players for how hard they worked, and they had a chance to win a huge game and advance.”
Phoenix, as the No. 5 seed, moves on to play the No. 4 Minnesota Lynx in another win-or-go-home contest. Tuesday’s loss was the Mystics’ first in the single elimination format since it was created in 2016.