The Mercury led by double-digits in the fourth quarter, trailed in the first overtime, led by seven in the second extra period, and saw four of their players foul out before finally losing 117-111 in a triple-overtime thriller to Dallas at Talking Stick Resort Arena on Sunday night.
After the roller coaster contest, Phoenix Head Coach Sandy Brondello could only sum up what everyone in the arena was thinking after the Mercury led by 16 entering the final period of regulation.
“We should have put it away in regulation,” she said.
The victory was there for the taking for the Mercury, who got a career night from DeWanna Bonner (38 points) and Candice Dupree’s best game of the season (19 points, 11 rebounds). Dallas, however, stormed back in the fourth quarter thanks to five three-pointers and, ultimately, a 51-35 edge in free throw attempts.
It looked as though Phoenix would avoid its late-game collapse in the second overtime, when Penny Taylor helped engineer a 7-0 Mercury run with her relentless drives to the basket. Two of them led to baskets by teammates, while the third created enough room for a bucket of her own. That basket gave her team a 103-96 edge with 1:57 remaining.
Dallas stormed back with seven unanswered points of their own, tying up the game and sending it to a third extra period.
By then, Diana Taurasi (nine points, six assists) had already fouled out. Three more of her teammates — Dupree, Brittney Griner and Noelle Quinn — picked up a sixth foul in the third overtime, leaving Phoenix short three starters and a key reserve. In the end, it was too much for the short-handed Mercury to overcome.
Still, Phoenix was more troubled by its inability to prevent the overtime dramatics in the first place.
“When you’re up by 17, you have to actually focus more, not less,” Brondello said. “Anyone can beat anyone in this league. We didn’t close it out.”
Bonner nearly single-handedly kept the Mercury in the game in the first half, scoring 24 of her 38 points before intermission. Dallas could not stop her three-pointers, jump shots or drives to the basket. She also came up with three steals, including two in the Wings’ backcourt.
Her teammates stepped up in the third quarter, led by Dupree, Taurasi and rookie forward Isabelle Harrison (seven points, six rebounds, two steals). Brondello was disappointed to see standout performances and moments buried by the energy-sapping defeat.
“We just weren’t consistent with what we wanted to do,” Brondello said. “It’s very disappointing. [Bonner’s] first half is as good as it gets, really.”