Overcoming slow starts in both halves Tuesday night, the Phoenix Mercury continued their dominance of the Indiana Fever with a 95-77 win at Talking Stick Resort Arena.

The Mercury improved to 10-8 in their final game before the WNBA All-Star break and 3-0 this season vs. Indiana (6-15). They swept the Fever for a second straight year and have won nine of the last 10 meetings.

Leading 67-61 through three quarters, the Mercury extended their lead to 80-71 on a Brittney Griner drive at 4:56 in the fourth. 

Indiana could get no closer than six the rest of the way as the Mercury bolted away with a 3-point barrage (12-of-21 overall).

The Fever suffered their sixth straight loss and 10th in its last 11 games. The Mercury are 8-3 over their last 11 games.

All-Stars Griner and DeWanna Bonner each scored 22 points for the Mercury with Griner pulling seven rebounds. Leilani Mitchell added 14 points and Sophie Cunningham 10. 

Erica Wheeler had 18 for Indiana, Tiffany Mitchell 14, Teaira McCowan 14/9 rebounds and Candice Dupree 12. Wheeler and Dupree also are All-Stars. 

Like in the first half, the Mercury had a shaky start in the second, giving up the first six points and later trailing 52-46. 

They regrouped as the third progressed, scoring 12 of the final 15 points to lead 67-61. Camille Little, Leilani Mitchell and Cunningham hit 3-pointers and Griner had a 3-point play over the final 2:22 of the third.

Indiana raced to 8-0 and 11-2 leads at the outset before Bonner heated up with 12 first-quarter points, cutting the Mercury deficit to 21-20.

Griner and Yvonne Turner led Phoenix scoring in the second quarter as the Mercury built a six-point lead before the Fever closed within one, 44-43, at halftime.

Rookie guard Cunningham made her second career start for the Mercury, replacing injured Essence Carson.

Tiffany Mitchell was 3-of-3 from 3-point in the first half, leading the Fever with 11 points.

Carson out 6-8 weeks 

The Mercury suffered another major injury setback Tuesday when Carson was ruled out for 6-8 weeks with a right calf injury.

Carson suffered the injury Saturday at Dallas then underwent an MRI after returning to Phoenix. The recovery time frame could keep her out until the WNBA playoffs or potentially for the rest of the season.

The Mercury also are without guard Diana Taurasi, who had back surgery April 24 and has played in just one game, and forward Sancho Lyttle, out 4-6 weeks with a knee injury suffered July 12.

Until Taurasi returns, currently an unknown, the Mercury have just nine healthy players. It’s not clear they can apply for an injury exemption to add a player after the All-Star break.

2020 site announcement? 

The Mercury are holding a press conference Wednesday at Veterans Memorial Coliseum and giving off indications that they will play there in 2020, while Talking Stick Resort Arena undergoes renovations.

Other options for next summer are to play at Arizona State’s Wells Fargo Arena or Grand Canyon’s GCU Arena.

The Mercury have been teasing their announcement for a week, sending out puzzle pieces (all but in the center) to the media. For now, team officials are not confirming that the Mercury will return to the Phoenix Suns’ home from 1968-92.

Turner on EuroBasket experience

Six teams are advancing from EuroBasket, which wrapped up July 7, to Olympic qualifying tournaments. Hungary also made that cut led by Mercury guard Yvonne Turner, who average 10.8 points, 6.8 rebounds and 3.6 assists over five games.

Turner played with the Mercury through June 20 then rushed to Europe for her Hungarian national team debut at a tournament held in Latvia and Serbia.

“I stayed in contact with the coach (Norbert Szekely),” Turner said. “With our injuries, he understood and I worked out with the girls in November so they knew me. They knew my game on the court, they knew what kind of player I was off the court and person. So they were OK with me coming a little bit late. They were a little bit skeptical at first, but once I got there everything was fine, like OK now we can relax.”

The Hungarians went 2-1 in group play, advancing to the quarterfinals, where they were edged 62-5 by Great Britain. Then in a classification game against Belgium for a top six finish, they lost 72-56. The top six at Eurobasket in order were Spain, France, Serbia, Great Britain, Belgium and Sweden with Hungary seventh. Russia, coached by Olaf Lange, was eight. Lange is Mercury coach Sandy Brondello’s husband.

“It is a little bit frustrating because we were one spot away from qualifying,” Turner said. “It does suck because we were so close, but we can prepare and get it again after this Olympics. It’s unfortunate, but we live and we learn. You can’t win them all, but you can learn from them and move forward.”

Turner missed five Mercury games, but the team went 4-1 in her absence. She’s played six games since returning including 10 points at Washington on July 10. Pending Diana Taurasi’s return, she could have a bigger role because of Carson’s injury. 

“We know what we have to do,” Turner said. “Even though we have nine players, our roles just have to step up a little bit more. I think we’ll be ready for the challenge then hopefully we can hold the fort down until everyone gets back. We’ll do what we have to do get them back and healthy and when playoffs come we’ll have a full team, full force.”

Up next

The Mercury are off until July 30 when they return from the All-Star break with a game at Washington. They play five of their next six games against teams ahead of them in the WNBA standings. 

Reach the reporter at jeff.met[email protected] or 602-444-8053.Follow him on Twitter @jeffmetcalfe.

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