On the night it was announced she would join the Western Conference All-Star team for Saturday’s game in Phoenix, Mercury forward Candice Dupree tied the Mystics’ Monique Currie with a game-high 19 points, and fellow All-Star Diana Taurasi scored 18. The 19 were 11 over Currie’s season average.
Brittney Griner scored 10 of her 16 points in the first five minutes, as opposed to the Mystics’ eight, and none were more impressive than grabbing her own rebound twice before finally swatting it in the hoop. Already up by seven, the Mercury scored 11 unanswered to end the period, before Ivory Latta sank a three to cut the lead to 32-17.
“Attention to detail is what has made us so successful, these players are competitive,” Mercury coach Sandy Brondello said.
Phoenix would have shot 78 percent during the first quarter, but it missed three attempts in the final seconds, and its lead never went below double digits until the early fourth quarter when the Mystics pulled off a 10-point run. After a timeout, Penny Taylor ended the scoring drought, and a stationary Griner dunked with a flat-footed jump under the basket, much to the delight of the crowd. The Mystics would outscore the Mercury by two in the third quarter and one in the fourth, but never regained the lead.
“We’re playing really well as a unit,” Dupree said. “We let them outscore us in the second half, but we had a big enough lead to not let them get back into the game, tonight we won, but it wasn’t the prettiest game.”
Taylor finished with 12 points for Phoenix, DeWanna Bonner scored 11, and Griner grabbed a game-high eight rebounds.
Washington, which joins Seattle as the only teams in the WNBA without an All-Star, also received 15 points and six assists from rookie guard Bria Hartley, 13 each from Kia Vaughn and Latta, and 10 from Belgian forward Emma Meesseman.
“This is a good young team, and I expect them to be in the playoffs, they’ve found they’re identity, everyone can shoot the ball,” Brondello said of the Mystics.
The Mercury hosts the Connecticut Sun with its two All-Stars, Chiney Ogwumike and Katie Douglas, at 7 p.m. Thursday, and the Mystics are at Los Angeles the same evening. The Sun was the most recent team to defeat the Mercury (96-95 June 12).
“As long as we get contributions from a lot of different people, we can go far,” Taurasi said. “Our goal is to make sure everyone touches the ball and gets involved.”