Taurasi, Griner led Mercury past Storm 85-80 in OT | MCUTimes

Taurasi, Griner led Mercury past Storm 85-80 in OT

EVERETT, Wash .- (AP) -Brittney Griner scored 23 points and took 16 rebounds, and Diana Taurasi scored six points in overtime as Phoenix Mercury beat Seattle Storm 85-80 in the second round, single elimination WNBA playoff game on Sunday .

Taurasi, a decision in playing time after missing the last five games with a left ankle injury, hit a binding 3-pointer, a back-to-back jumper and a late free-throw as Phoenix took over the stretch.

The fifth-seeded Mercury opens the best of five No. 2 semifinal series in Las Vegas on Tuesday.

Fourth-seeded Seattle, who played without top scorer Breanna Stewart, opened overtime with a Katie Lou Samuelson 3-pointer for a 76-73 lead. But from there, the Storm fought and made only 2 out of 11 the rest of the way.

The game was even with 78 when Taurasi, with a big hoop on her ankle, hit from the left baseline to put Phoenix ahead for good with 2:14 to play. She grimaced in pain upon returning to the defense.

“You will always play, you will help your team,” Taurasi said. “Both teams have been fighting all year. The ball went our way a little more tonight. You know how good Seattle is. Every time we come up here, we get kicked our (butt). We found a way to steal a few possessions and win. . ”

Skylar Diggins-Smith scored 20 points for Phoenix. Taurasi had 14 points, Brianna Turner also had a double = double with 12 points and 12 rebounds and Kia Nurse 12 points, including two free throws to close the scoring with 15.8 seconds to play.

Samuelson led Seattle, the defending champions, by 18 points and Sue Bird, Taurasi’s teammate at UConn and on five Olympic gold medal teams, scored 16 points.

“Trying to be Willis Reed over here,” Bird said of Taurasi before the two swapped jerseys. “No one on my team understood that reference. Maybe it’s a sign. These fans make me cry in about two seconds.”

The storm crowd began to sing “one more year” as the 40-year-old four-time champion covered her face. Bird said she would take the time to find out if she will continue playing next season.

Seattle beat Phoenix 94-85 10 days earlier when Jewell Loyd matched a WNBA record of 22 points in the first quarter and finished with a career-high of 37. This time, Mercury jumped out to a 12-point lead before Stormen closed the half with a 15-0 run to lead 35-32 at halftime. It remained close from there, but Loyd, who scored 15 points, made just 5 of 24 shots.

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More AP Women’s Basketball: https://apnews.com/hub/womens-basketball and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

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