The Mercury were down by double-digits at halftime, but the team showed their resilience as they fought back in a defensive-focused second half. The Liberty were held to under 40 percent from the field and scored just 25 points in the entire second half.
A steal by Leilani Mitchell during the third quarter sparked her teammates and the X-Factor as the Mercury would follow that up with a 12-0 run to end the quarter.
“We’ve got a lot of fight in us,” Mitchell said. “Not one time tonight did you have to question our effort. If our effort is there then we can clean up little things that we need to do. We can only go up.”
Missing Diana Taurasi to a suspension, Mitchell stepped up in her first start of the season. She finished with 11 points, five assists and four steals.
The Mercury would eventually take a five-point lead with Stephanie Talbot and Brittney Griner’s impressive fourth quarter play.
With the big names making their impact, the secret weapon for Mercury seemed to come off the bench. Yvonne Turner’s presence was felt everywhere on the court Tuesday night.
“This is what she does over in Europe,” Head Coach Sandy Brondello said about Turner. “It’s more like Yvonne just plays the game. Just be aggressive and that’s what she did. She really generated a lot of steals for us and got out and got easy baskets in transition.”
Turner finished with 12 points and many key stops on the defensive end.
“It felt really good,” Turner said. “It felt good to be productive and help my teammates out even if it’s for 30 seconds or a minute. So coming off the bench I try to provide that energy, especially when some of my teammates are tired, to come in and try to lift them up.”
A tied game with under a minute to go, the Liberty would eventually hit a two that would seal the deal. The Mercury fell 69-67.
“Obviously disappointed in the loss, but I’m very proud of the effort in the second half,” Brondello said. “It’d be nice to have won the game, but we fought back so it shows a lot of character about this team.”
The Mercury will stay in town as they gear up to face the Dallas Wings on Saturday.