The Phoenix Mercury went into Sunday’s matchup down two games to the Los Angeles Sparks in the WNBA Semifinals.
Diana Taurasi made history (again) early on in the game as she passed Tamika Catchings for the most made field goals in WNBA playoff history.
The Mercury came out on fire, opening the game on a 10-2 run. Camille Little was aggressive offensively, finishing the first quarter with 12 points and four rebounds.
The Sparks had a strong second quarter, but the Mercury weren’t about to back down.
Taurasi caught fire in the fourth quarter. She couldn’t seem to miss after she knocked down three-after-three until the Mercury were right back in it.
With under two minutes to go, Leilani Mitchell stole the ball and scored to bring the Mercury within just three. A shot clock violation and a steal led to a Camille Little fast break. The score was 85-84 in favor of the Sparks.
Los Angeles would hit two free throws to put themselves up by three with only 14 seconds to go.
Enter the G.O.A.T. Taurasi launched a three with multiple defenders in her face to tie the game at 87-87.
“Diana loves the big moment and she’s shown that many many many many many times,” Head Coach Sandy Brondello said. “She makes shots when she needs to.”
Candice Parker would eventually hit a shot to win it for the Sparks, but the Mercury never backed down against the reigning WNBA Champions.
“You always want to win,” Taurasi said. “You always want to be the last team to win the last game, but it doesn’t always happen. I’m really proud of this group of what we were able to do.”
The Mercury entered 2017 with only two returning players (Taurasi and Brittney Griner) from the previous season. They took this as a challenge and battle through the learning curve.
“It takes a while to build that chemistry,” Taurasi said. “I’m just really proud of how everyone came to the gym ready to learn, ready to be unselfish and do everything it took to get the team to this point. It says a lot about us character wise and hopefully this is a building block for next year and we can keep getting better. On that side of it I’m really proud of this team.”
Taurasi gave credit to one key piece for the team: the fans.
“I mean our fans today were just incredible,” Taurasi said. “If we had more fans like that in the WNBA, this league would be in a different place. They know how to make sure you’re loved and supported out there. They make you play at a different level.”
The 2017 season might be over, but building on what the team accomplished this year, you can’t help but be excited for what is to come with the Phoenix Mercury.