Mercury routs Aces for 2nd straight win and takes control of series
Brianna Turner scored 23 points, Brittney Griner added 18 points and 11 rebounds, and the Phoenix Mercury beat the Las Vegas Aces 87-60 on Sunday to take a 2-1 lead in the WNBA semifinals.
The Mercury got off to a quick fresh start and never gave up, winning a second straight rout as members of the NBA’s Phoenix Suns cheered from the front row at Arizona State’s Desert Financial Arena.
Phoenix kept 2020 League MVP A’Ja Wilson at eight points on 2 of 14 shots, and limited Las Vegas to 31 percent shots to move closer to a victory in their first WNBA Final since winning the 2014 title.
Game 4 is Wednesday in downtown Phoenix.
.@_Breezy_Briii IS IN HIS BAG 👜
Turner dropped a career-high 17 PTS in the first half 🔥
Liz Cambage led the Aces with 13 points.
The Aces won the opener 96-90 at home, but Phoenix tied the series with the most points in a regulation playoff game in the WNBA’s 25-year history.
Diana Taurasi was the catalyst for that 117-91 win, shaking a stubborn left ankle to score 37 points, a career-high playoff game.
The series moved across the desert to the Valley of the Sun, but not to the original Mercury arena. The Footprint Center had previously booked Disney on Ice, so the Mercury was forced to play their first home game of the WNBA semifinals at Arizona State.
Phoenix got off to a quick start in Game 2 – a record 68 points in the first half – and started Game 3 with 11 straight points. Taurasi started with two 3s at the start and Turner picked it up from there, scoring 17 points in the first half.
Phoenix wasn’t bad on defense either, defying almost every shot, keeping the Aces 12 of 35 to lead 46-31 at halftime.
The Mercury turned to Griner in the second half and she succeeded, scoring on a series of inside shots to extend the lead to 68-44 at the end of the third quarter.
Wilson was hit with a technical foul for arguing an appeal and the Mercury kept the pressure on, heading for another unbalanced victory.
Copper and Quigley lift Sky in front of Sun for directing the show
Kahleah Copper faltered after being fouled on a basket late in the WNBA semifinals on Sunday.
His teammates clung to the energy needed to maintain an unlikely run in the playoffs. Copper scored 26 points and Allie Quigley added 21 to help the Chicago Sky beat the Connecticut Sun 86-83 in Game 3 of the WNBA Semifinals on Sunday.
Sixth-seeded Sky finished the regular season 0.500 and 10 games behind the Sun but can win the best-of-five series and secure the franchise’s second trip to the league final with a home win on Wednesday.
Copper completed the game by three points and made a run layup to cap a 9-0 run midway through the final period to give the hosts the advantage for good. She took the pose after making the first basket.
“When she’s like that, it’s over,” Sky center Candace Parker said of her teammate. “We remember the great games, but these are the ones and some.”
WATCH Sky defeat No. 3 seeded Sun in Game 3:
The copper was 5 to 7 off the ground and always seemed to offer a large basket when Heaven needed it. Energy seemed to filter through the crowd of 7,421 as Chicago survived a dramatic final seconds.
Abandoned 84-83, the Sun had a chance to take the lead in the dying seconds when Briann January got behind the defense on a breakaway but missed the layup.
DeWanna Bonner scored 22 points to lead the Sun, who also had 18 points from Alyssa Thomas.
“They had loose balls tonight and they were a little tougher on the home stretch,” said Bonner. “Right now, ‘What if we do that shot?’, ‘What if we get that bounce?’ that’s all we think about. “
Copper scored 3 points with 25 seconds left in the first half to give Sky a 37-35 advantage at the break.
“I was just aggressive from the start,” Copper said. “I think it’s important to bring that confidence. I’m just trying to do whatever I can do there.”
Azura Stevens had 15 points and 11 rebounds. Parker added 10 points and 11 boards for the Sky, who are seeking their first final appearance since 2014.
Chicago forces 16 turnovers
The Sun appeared to lose their offense in the second quarter, but didn’t show the same sort of precision in the final half and finished with 16 turnovers. Sky coach James Wade believed his team deserved some of the credit.
Bonner was slow to recover from a brutal collision with Diamond DeShields in an attempted layup late in the first half. However, she stayed in the game and made both free throws. DeShields was given a flagrant personal foul of 1 after a video review of the game.
Jonquel Jones of Connecticut, the league’s MVP this season, finished with 10 points, 10 rebounds and four blocks after being limited to just four points in the Sun’s 79-68 win in Game 2. Sky, however, held her to just one fielding over two tries in the final period on Sunday.
“There is a lot of attention for her,” Miller said. “The challenge is to get JJ to touch where she can score.”