The Mercury looked poised, confident and united in an impressive 81-64 season opening win over the visiting Seattle Storm at US Airways Center Saturday night. Phoenix' 17-point margin of victory tonight matched its largest on opening night in franchise history. The Mercury led Seattle by as many as 22 points and shot 61 percent in the first half.
"I think that' going to be our strength all year is that one through eleven, everyone is going to have to go out there, everyone is going to have to produce, play well, play with a lot of energy," Diana Taurasi said about the team's depth. "There were stretches there where we looked like a really good team but we still have a long way to go, though."
Brittney Griner finished with a game-high 19 points, five blocks and four rebounds. Phoenix held the Storm to 33 percent shooting from the floor - 23.5 percent from beyond the arc - while forcing 14 turnovers. The Mercury shot 56 percent from the field on the night and 47 percent from the 3-point line.
"I mean, I came in with more confidence, I came in with more poise," Griner said. "We got the win, and a big one, too, at that. We didn"t try to over-due it, we just tried to play our game. When they doubled we kicked out, we moved the ball around. Probably rebounded better. Just a different sense of confidence this year."
DeWanna Bonner scored 11 points on 5-of-8 shooting and guard Anete Jekabsone-Zogota came off the bench to electrify the crowd by hitting all four of her shots, including three 3-pointers, and also finished with 11 points. Penny Taylor played 15 minutes and looked comfortable in the new system. Shay Murphy tallied a team-high three assists in just 13 minutes of action.
Perhaps the most encouraging stat from tonight's game was how few minutes each player finished with. DeWanna Bonner led the team with just 26:43 minutes played - important considering Phoenix heads to Los Angeles Sunday to face the Sparks.
"I thought we came out ready to play," Head Coach Sandy Brondello said. Brondello joined Cheryl Miller as the only head coaches in franchise history to win their debut with the team in a season opener. "We hit sixty percent in the first half that really helped us, but overall I was pretty happy with our defense. I said from the start that we"re really focusing on that. We are playing great one on one defense, but we have that great team defense behind the ball. For the most part of the game it was good. So I"m excited to get that first win under our belt. We can still get better."
Mistie Bass was huge off the bench for the Mercury.
In just 17 minutes of play, Bass scored six points and grabbed six boards including two offensive which led to more Mercury points.
Anete Jekabsone-Zogota was also a big part of the win. Jekabsone-Zogota was a perfect 4-of-4 from the field (3-of-3 from the 3-point line) while scoring 11 points.
PLAYER OF THE GAME
Brittney Griner looked "confident and comfortable" as described by Sandy Brondello.
Griner had a dominant performance scoring 19 points on 8-of-9 shooting to go along with five blocks and four rebounds.
Perhaps even more encouraging, Griner put up those numbers in just 23 minutes of action - all the more important considering the Mercury has a tough back-to-back in Los Angeles on Sunday.
PHOTO OF THE NIGHT
STAT(S) OF THE NIGHT
46.7 - the percent the Mercury shot from the 3-point line. Phoenix was 7-of-15 from downtown - a huge improvement from the 30 percent they averaged as a team last season.