The Chicago Sky will head into another offseason thinking about what went wrong in their quest to reach the playoffs for the first time.
The Washington Mystics have even bigger problems facing them over the next eight months.
Two days after being eliminated from postseason contention, Chicago hosts the WNBA-worst Mystics on Saturday night in the season finale for both teams.
The Sky (13-20) were in a tight battle with New York for the fourth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference, but a slump down the stretch cost them.
Chicago lost for the third time in four games Thursday night, 75-66 at home to Atlanta, and was eliminated from the playoff race because it needed to win its last two games and have the Liberty lose their final two.
New York did fall 78-66 at lowly Tulsa on Thursday night but secured the final postseason berth because it owns the second tiebreaker over Chicago with a better conference record.
"I think the biggest lesson is trying to help with creating a sense of urgency all the time," coach and general manager Pokey Chatman said. "They're pros. They know what's going on. We need to find a way to give the players the confidence to want the ball in their hands."
Chicago, completing its seventh season in the WNBA without ever appearing in the playoffs, was short-handed over the final two weeks with Olympic center Sylvia Fowles missing six straight games with a calf strain.
Second on the Sky with 16.2 points per game and averaging team bests of 10.4 rebounds and 1.2 blocks, Fowles will also miss the finale.
This is will be the last game for Chicago point guard Ticha Penicheiro, who announced her retirement this week. The 15-year veteran is the league's all-time assists leader with 2,597.
"I would just like to thank, in a general way, the people involved in my career: from my coaches to my teammates to the WNBA and of course the fans," she said. "Basketball has given me more than I could ever imagine, and I will continue to give back and stay close to this amazing sport."
Chicago won the first two meetings with Washington this season before losing 75-71 in overtime in the nation's capital Aug. 19. That was the last win for the Mystics and one of five in 2012 to go along with their 28 losses.
A victory Saturday would match Washington's 6-28 record from last season and also end a franchise-record 12-game skid. The Mystics set that mark Friday night, getting held to their fewest points this season in a 66-53 home loss to Indiana as leading scorer Crystal Langhorne sat out with a left foot strain.
"We're taking this whole season and trying to learn from it, that's why you haven't seen us really give up toward the end," guard Jasmine Thomas said. "We're still trying to win games."