Three-time WNBA champion Penny Taylor was honored in a postgame ceremony at Talking Stick Resort Arena on Sunday. Taylor played 10 seasons with the Mercury and is currently the team’s director of player development.
Mercury burn Liberty
Brittney Griner recorded her fourth double-double of the season in a dominant performance to lead the Phoenix Mercury past the New York Liberty, 81-69, on Sunday at Talking Stick Resort Arena.
Griner netted a game-high 31 points — including 24 in the first half — and added 13 rebounds and six blocks to help extend the Mercury’s win streak to a season-long three games. She also eclipsed 1,000 career rebounds, just the fifth player in team history to achieve the feat.
Diana Taurasi, who last month broke the WNBA’s all-time scoring record, chipped in with 19 points on 6-of-10 shooting. Taurasi has now scored at least 10 points in 14 straight games as the newly acquired scoring record doesn’t seem to have dampened her competitive spirit.
Danielle Robinson also turned in a strong performance, scoring 10 points and posting a game-high six assists.
“We’re playing well as a team,” Mercury coach Sandy Brondello said. “We’ve got good players that complement each other. To see (Griner) and (Taurasi) on the offensive end was stellar again.”
Although the Liberty’s Tina Charles posted 29 points and eight rebounds, Phoenix was able to limit the New York offense by allowing just one other opposing player reach double digits (Sugar Rodgers, 14).
“It was a really good game,” Griner said. “They kind of embarrassed us when we went out to New York, so we knew we had to come out strong and do something a bit different. We had to bring it to them, and not let them bring it to us first.”
The Mercury prevented New York from winning its fifth consecutive regular-season game vs. Phoenix, which would have been a record in the all-time series. The Liberty had twice before claimed four in a row over the Mercury (June 2000 to June 2003, June 1998 to July 1999).
Charles fell just short of her 137th career double-double and eighth of the season. She is now three rebounds behind Michelle Snow for eighth on the WNBA’s all-time rebound list (2,479).
The Liberty, who defeated the Seattle Storm on Thursday, have not won consecutive games since June 2-11.
Griner continues dominance
It was yet another dominant performance by Griner, whose height, athleticism and shot precision was on full display Sunday.
“I was just feeling it tonight, honestly. I don’t know what it was,” Griner said. “It was just a good night. When my team has my back, it pumps me up and helps me make the plays I need to make.”
When she is on her game — blocking shots, hitting fall-away jumpers, etc. — she has the potential to be the best player on the court at any time.
Griner was asked after the game if she thinks there is a ceiling to what she can do.
“I hope not,” she said. “I hope there’s no ceiling.”
Penny Taylor honored
Three-time WNBA champion and Mercury great Penny Taylor was honored in a postgame retirement ceremony.
Former and current teammates and coaches presented Taylor with gifts on the court, and video montages of her playing career were shown to the fans in attendance. A banner with her last name was unveiled in the rafters.
“I’m extremely proud of her,” Brondello said. “I’m proud that I had the privilege to play with her, to coach her and just to see her grow.”
Taylor, who married Taurasi in May, is now the team’s director of player development and still resides in the Valley.
“The city and the organization has given me the opportunity to create a home here,” Taylor said. “I can’t say enough about how they’ve welcomed me and how much that means to me.”
The first 10,000 fans in attendance received a commemorative towel honoring Taylor. The Mercury also presented a $10,000 check to the American Cancer Society on her behalf.
Section 113 at Talking Stick Resort Arena was temporarily renamed as “Penny Taylor Section 13” and will remain as such for Mercury games and arena functions until the end of the season.
Taylor, who was born in Australia, scored 4,606 points in her career and spent 10 seasons with the Mercury.
– Richard Morin
New York Liberty at Phoenix Mercury
When: 3 p.m.
Where: Talking Stick Resort Arena.
Mercury update: Diana Taurasi (17 points) and Brittney Griner (15) combined to lead the Mercury to a 92-77 road win over the San Antonio Stars on Friday. Phoenix (9-6) enters weekend play in third place, sitting 4 1/2 games out of the top spot. Griner, 26, leads the WNBA in scoring with 21.9 points per game and blocks with 2.5 per contest. She also ranks fifth in field-goal percentage (.566). Taurasi, who last month broke the WNBA all-time scoring record, is seventh in the league with 18 points per game. The Mercury are currently riding a three-game win streak and will play each of their next three contests at Talking Stick Resort Arena.
Liberty update: New York wraps up a four-game road trip on Sunday after defeating the Seattle Storm 79-70 on Thursday — snapping a three-game losing skid. Tina Charles posted her seventh double-double of the season, scoring 29 points and 12 rebounds. Charles’ 20.3 points per game and 9.1 rebounds per game rank her third in the WNBA in both categories. The Liberty have already beaten the Mercury twice in two prior meetings this season, the most recent a 69-67 win at Phoenix on May 23. The Liberty’s Kia Vaughn has scored in double-digits in each of her last two games, and posted her first double-double since 2014 when she played for the Washington Mystics.
Taurasi, Griner lead Mercury past Stars
SAN ANTONIO – Diana Taurasi scored 17 points, Brittney Griner had 15 points, eight rebounds and five blocks, and the Phoenix Mercury beat the San Antonio Stars 92-77 on Friday night.
Griner hit a hook shot just before the halftime buzzer to give Phoenix a 45-35 lead. She and Taurasi combined to score 24 points in the half. Taurasi scored five points during the Mercury’s 11-2 run to open the third quarter for a 56-37 lead.
Phoenix cruised in the second half even after Taurasi was ejected with 8:55 remaining after her second technical foul.
Leilani Mitchell also scored 15 points for Phoenix (9-6). She made her third 3-pointer to give the Mercury an 85-65 lead midway through the fourth.
Kayla McBride scored 10 of her 22 points in the first quarter for San Antonio (1-16). Alex Montgomery added 12 points and Kelsey Plum had six assists.
— Associated Press
Phoenix Mercury at San Antonio Stars
When: 5 p.m.
Where: AT&T Center, San Antonio.
Mercury: It will be the second time the teams have played each other this season, the first coming back in May, when the Mercury won 78-72 in San Antonio. Brittney Griner had a game-high 20 points and 13 rebounds.
The Mercury recently traded Shay Murphy, Sophie Brunner (more information below) and a 2018 draft pick to the Stars for Monique Currie.
The Mercury are coming off of an 88-80 win over the Washington Mystics on Wednesday. Griner had a monster game, scoring 30 points and grabbing 14 rebounds. She’s averaging 22.4 points and 8.1 rebounds a game this season.
Stars: San Antonio is the worst team in the WNBA with a record of 1-15. The Stars are coming off of a blowout 89-56 loss to the Connecticut Sun.
They drafted Kelsey Plum with the No. 1 overall pick this year out of Washington. Kayla McBride leads the team in scoring, averaging 15.1 points per game. Isabelle Harrison is second in scoring, adding 11.0 points a contest.
San Antonio waived former Arizona State forward Sophie Brunner on Thursday, eight days after she was obtained in a trade with the Phoenix Mercury.
The 6-1 Brunner, ASU’s second leading career rebounder and third leading career scorer, has signed to play overseas in 2017-18 with an Italian team based in Turin.
She is working to transition from a post player in college to a perimeter player, working on her shooting and ball handling.
Mercury upset Mystics
Diana Taurasi caught the pass at the top of the key, in position for a shot that everyone is accustomed to seeing her take during the fourth quarter. Instead, she made an extra pass to Stephanie Talbot who stood to her right and drained a 3-pointer.
It was that kind of night for the Mercury. Taurasi, who had previously scored 15 or more points in 10 straight games, didn’t get going going offensively until late in the fourth quarter and was forced to impact the game in other ways for much of the time. She finished with 12 points and had six assists.
After a sub-par game the last time out against Minnesota, Brittney Griner bounced back with a monster game, leading the Phoenix Mercury to a win over the Eastern Conference-leading Washington Mystics, 88-80.
“(Griner) is a great player,” Mercury coach Sandy Brondello said. “That’s what we do, we rely on her like that. She’s a world-class player and she’s playing fantastic. We wanted the ball in her hands, not just as a scorer but as a playmaker. I thought she rebounded extremely well, so it’s good to see.”
With the win, the Mercury improved to 8-6 on the season, and they have still not lost back-to-back games this season. The Mystics fell to 10-7.
Griner led the way with 30 points, 14 rebounds, three assists and three blocks.
Camille Little added 14 points and six rebounds, while Talbot finished with 11 and six boards.
“I was happy with that fourth quarter, I thought we got back to having that sense of urgency,” Brondello said. “(Washington) can score from all across the floor. They’re a good team. It’s a good win.”
Elena Delle Donne led Washington with 15 points.
- Talbot, Little spark offense in first half. Diana Taurasi was held scoreless in the first half, but Stephanie Talbot and Camille Little helped pick up the scoring, each making two 3-pointers to give the Mercury a comfortable lead. They had eight and 10 points, respectively, in the first half. Taurasi scored her first points with five minutes left in the third quarter. “I felt good, I’m getting more and more comfortable,” Little said. “My body is feeling good, so if I can take some of the weight off BG and D, they do a lot for us, if Steph and I can get it going early that spreads the floor and gets everyone easier looks. I just want to play hard and make things easier for Diana and BG.”
- Brittney Griner returns to form. After a poor performance last week against Minnesota, Griner was her usual self on Wednesday. She had 13 first-half points and finished the game with 30 points and 14 rebounds. Also important was that she stayed out of foul trouble, which kept her on the bench for much of her previous game. “I can be very successful when a game is called great like tonight,” Griner said. “These refs did a great job … Last game it was really the fouls. I can’t attack from the bench.”
- Mercury pull out win despite slow offensive night from Taurasi. Taurasi was held scoreless until about five minutes remained in the third quarter when she received a pass for an open layup. Instead, several others picked up the scoring, namely Griner and Little. Despite finishing with just 12 points on 4-of-11 shooting, Taurasi was able to do other things to help her team. She had six assists, two rebounds and a steal. “We just moved the ball and made shots, and Diana was an instigator of that,” Brondello said. “She’s very unselfish. She’s going to move the ball until we get a great shot.”
- Entering Wednesday’s game, Diana Taurasi led the league in 3-point makes with 41, and 3-point attempts with 105. She’s on pace to make 112 this season, nine behind the WNBA record she set back in 2006. She made two 3-pointers on Wednesday on eight tries.
- After failing to score 15 points in tonight’s game, Taurasi’s streak of scoring 15 or more points in a game stops at 10 games. It was her third-longest scoring streak in her career.
- The Mystics entered Wednesday’s game ranked second in the league in rebounds, averaging 36 per game. They are 7-2 when out-rebounding their opponent. The Mercury out-rebounded them, 40-34.
- Elena Delle Donne played her first game against the Mercury on Wednesday as a member of the Mystics. She averaged 22.9 points and 7.3 rebounds for the Chicago Sky against Phoenix in the regular season over the last four years. She finished Wednesday’s game with 15 points.
- With the win, the Mercury improved to 4-4 at home on the season. It is also the fifth-straight win against the Mystics.
On Friday, the Mercury will travel to San Antonio to take on the Stars at 5 p.m. The Stars are currently dead last in the WNBA with a record of 1-15. After recording their first win last week against the Sky, they dropped their most recent game Wednesday to the Sun 89-56.
“Every game is tough in this league. You can’t just go in and expect to win because you’ll lose,” Brondello said. “That’s what I enjoy about it, we have the next challenge. We have to get ready for San Antonio.”
It will be the second time the teams have played each other this season, the first coming back in May, when the Mercury won 78-72 in San Antonio. Brittney Griner had a game high 20 points and 13 rebounds.
The Mercury recently traded Shay Murphy, Sophie Brunner and a 2018 draft pick to the Stars for Monique Currie.
Washington Mystics at Phoenix Mercury
When: 7 p.m. Wednesday.
Where: Talking Stick Resort Arena.
Mercury: After falling at home last Friday to the league-leading Minnesota Lynx, the Mercury have the opportunity to pull off a big victory over the Eastern Conference-leading Mystics. The Mercury have not lost back-to-back games this season. Brittney Griner is having a career year, averaging 21.8 points, 7.7 rebounds, 2.1 assists and 2.3 blocks per game. Diana Taurasi, who was honored last week for setting the WNBA all-time scoring record, is averaging 18.6 points per game. The Mercury lead the all-time series 24-12.
Mystics: Washington is currently 10-6 overall, sitting atop the Eastern Conference by 1.5 games over the Connecticut Sun. After winning three straight, the Mystics lost their most recent game to the Los Angeles Sparks 76-69 at Staples Center. Elena Delle Donne is the team’s leading scorer, averaging 19.6 points per game. She also averages 6.7 rebounds, 1.5 assists, 1.5 blocks and 1.3 steals per game. Tayler Hill averages 14.8 points per game and Kristi Toliver averages 10 per game. This will be the first meeting between the teams this season. The Mystics are 3-4 on the road this season.
More Mercury: Mercury fall at home to the league-leading Lynx
More Mercury: Monique Currie rejoins Mercury
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