The Phoenix Mercury are the best road team in the league, last night they proved that once again as they beat the Washington Mystics 84-74. Britteny Griner and DeWanna Bonner had big games, scoring 24 and 23 points respectively. The Mystics were led by Elena Delle Donne’s game high 27 points and 13 rebounds. The victory improved the Mercury’s road record to 9-2 on the season, while snapping the Mystics four game winning streak.
Phoenix made it very clear from the opening tip, the ball was going to get inside to Griner. She did a good job of making decisions on her post touches. Whether it was scoring over the double or through it, but more often than not she kept the ball moving. That helped the Mercury have an edge in numbers on the perimeter whenever the double was sent and they took advantage of it.
Washington showed their grit throughout the first half, battling back every single time Phoenix started making a run. Credit also goes to the Mercury, their veterans did a good job of squashing any run made by Washington. Tayler Hill provided the Mystics with seven important point in the first half, possibly a sign that she’s taking a step forward in her comeback. Washington had evened things up at 31 behind back-to-back baskets by LaToya Sanders late in the half, but the Mercury responded to close the quarter with a four point lead.
The Mystics showed their resiliency in the third quarter, Natasha Cloud found LaToya Sanders in transition to even things at 46 points. Bonner got fouled on the ensuing possessions, hitting both free throws. That sparked a Mercury run, they’d lead by nine soon thereafter. Washington would respond yet again. Delle Donne tried to draw a foul shooting a three pointer, but no call was made, she hit the shot anyways. Unfortunately for Washington, she took a step inside the three point line to attempt that shot. Still, that would cut the Mystics deficit to two. On schedule, Bonner drilled a three and the Mercury would close the period with a run that pushed the lead back to eight.
The Mystics would cut the deficit to six on a nice walkup triple from Delle Donne with 6:16 left in the game. Delle Donne and Cloud had a big quarter, combining to score 15 points. Stepping up for Phoenix was Yvonne Turner seven of her 12 points came in the fourth quarter.
With the Phoenix lead at 10, Washington made what ended up being their last run of the game. Cloud started it by hitting a corner three. Delle Donne got fouled on a step through and finish, she then went to the line and knocked down the free throw. The deficit is now four, Bonner is fouled, but she splits the pair from the charity stripe. Cloud again scores, this time with a nice reverse layup which cuts the lead to three.
The dagger was delivered by Turner courtesy of a cross court find by Bonner. Tayler Hill came down to double Griner, but she couldn’t recover back to contest Turner’s shot. That triple gave the Mercury an 80-74 lead with 36.3 seconds left in the game. Washington wasn’t quite out of it yet, but after a timeout there was a miscommunication between Cloud and Toliver. That error resulted in a turnover on what was a very important possession for the Mystics, from there the foul game was played and the Mercury closed things out.
Washington has a few days off before hosting the Liberty to end their four game homestand. The energy from their rookies was definitely missing from the loss to Phoenix. Despite the loss, the Mystics are still in fourth place in the league and remain a half game up on the Connecticut Sun in the Eastern Conference.