Oct. 14 (UPI) — Brittney Griner scored a game-high 29 points and Diana Taurasi scored 18 of her 20 points in the second half and overtime to lead the Phoenix Mercury over the Chicago Sky in Game 2 of the WNBA Finals.
The Mercury’s 91-86 victory Wednesday at the Footprint Center in Phoenix tied the series at 1-1. Mercury guard Skylar Diggins-Smith totaled 13 points, 12 assists and seven rebounds in Game 2.
“That’s the GOAT [greatest of all time] right there,” Griner told reporters, when asked about Taurasi. “We know what D can bring, doesn’t matter how she starts the game or whatever.
“You know when the time is going down, when it’s crunch time, we have all the faith in the world that D is going to make those shots and make big plays for us. She does it year in, year out.”
The Mercury made 90.9% of its free-throw attempts, but was outrebounded 42-37 and outshot from the floor 46.3% to 44.4%. Courtney Vandersloot logged 20 points, 14 assists, five steals and three rebounds in the loss. Sky forward Candace Parker totaled 13 points and nine rebounds.
Game 3 of the best-of-five series is Friday in Chicago.
“It was crazy in there,” Taurasi told reporters. “You know, when you’re in that moment, the gravity of what’s going on, you can feel it and you try to just laser in on each possession, each timeout, really communicating with each other.
“At the end of the day it just ends up being basketball, and I think that’s the beauty of our team is with everything that’s going on, we can just always focus on what we need to get done, and [Wednesday] we did an amazing job doing that.”
The Sky took a 5-0 lead in the first two minutes and led 26-10 at the end of the first quarter. The Mercury used a 10-2 run to tie the score at 30-30 midway through the second. The game was tied at 40-40 at halftime.
The Sky outscored the Mercury 23-17 in the third and took a 63-57 lead into the fourth. The Mercury started the fourth on an 8-3 run to cut the Sky lead to one point.
Griner and Shey Peddy scored on consecutive possessions to give the Mercury a 78-74 lead with 27.4 seconds left in regulation. Vandersloot made a driving layup with 4.4 seconds remaining to tie the score. Candace Parker stole the ball from the Mercury on the next possession to force overtime.
Taurasi was fouled as she made a 3-pointer to start the extra period. She made the free throw to give the Mercury an 83-79 edge. Diggins-Smith followed with a two-point shot, giving the Mercury a six-point lead with 3:48 remaining.
The Sky took the lead back about a minute later, but Taurasi answered with a go-ahead, 25-foot 3-pointer for an 88-86 edge. Diggins-Smith added a late layup for the final points of the night.
“This was a tough one,” Parker said. “You lose Game 2 on the road in overtime, and I’ll take that one. I think there were spurts where we needed to be better, and I think we were better in those moments, I like our chances.
“Phoenix came out, they really did a great job in the fourth quarter. … We’ve got to right that going back to Chicago.”
Game 3 is at 9 p.m. EDT Friday at Wintrust Arena in Chicago. The game airs on ESPN2. Game 4 is scheduled for Sunday in Chicago. Game 5, if necessary, is Tuesday in Phoenix.