Now midway through its five-game road trip, the Phoenix Mercury (6-2) defeated the Washington Mystics (4-5), 81-66, Tuesday and will be at the Connecticut Sun (3-6) at 4 p.m. PT Thursday.
Diana Taurasi, who was just named Western Conference Player of the Week for the 17th time in her career , recorded a double-double of 10 points and 13 assists in the win at the Mystics, while Brittney Griner (20 points), Candice Dupree (18) and DeWanna Bonner (14) all scored in double figures. Second-year Belgian center Emma Meesseman scored a career-high 14 points for Washington.
The road stretch began with a 94-78 loss to Tulsa June 6, which resulted in the Shock’s first win of the season, and a 91-79 double OT win in San Antonio June 7 that saw the Mercury outscore the Stars 14-2 in the sixth period. After the game in Connecticut, Phoenix is at defending champion Minnesota (8-1) at 10 a.m. Sunday (ESPN2), before the Lynx returns with the Mercury to Arizona at 7 p.m. June 18.
“I think we’ve been playing well on the road the last couple of years,” Taurasi said after the most recent home game on June 3. “It’s an atmosphere we like, we have our backs against the wall, and we come out punching.”
The game with the Sun on Thursday will introduce the Mercury with No. 1 overall draft pick Chiney Ogwumike from Stanford. Ogwumike is averaging 16.6 points per game, ninth in the league just behind Taurasi (17.9), and 8.4 rebounds, just behind Griner, whose Baylor team eliminated Ogwumike in the Final Four in 2012. This will be the first chance veterans like Dupree (13.6 ppg) will go up against her. Katie Douglas (9.9 ppg) and Allison Hightower (9.4 ppg) are second and third on the Sun in scoring, and Maryland rookie Alyssa Thomas (8.7 ppg) is fourth.
The home-and-home series between the WNBA’s top two teams ensues Sunday. Minnesota’s only loss came by three points at Seattle, Maya Moore is leading the league with 24 points per game, Seimone Augustus is fourth at 19.7, and Lindsay Whalen is 10th with 16 per match. Phoenix and Minnesota are the only two teams in the West that are above .500, and Atlanta leads the East at 5-3. Dream forward Erika de Souza was named that conference’s Player of the Week the same time Taurasi was for the West.