The first-place Mercury (16-3) shot 64 percent from the floor in the first half and 54 percent for the game, compared with 39 for the Stars (11-11), who won at US Airways Center, 78-74, May 23. San Antonio also had led the WNBA in three-point shooting, but was held to 3-of-17 Sunday.
“We were a little more prepared,” said Mercury forward DeWanna Bonner. “We changed the starting lineup since we played them, so I think it was an all-around team win, we had a lot of assists in there and pushed the ball really well.”
The game was tied at 14-14 before a 15-2 run ensued in the first-and-second quarters. The lead swelled to 52-32 at halftime and 68-43 after the third.
The Mercury was led with Candice Dupree’s game-high 19 points, while Penny Taylor and Brittney Griner each scored 10. Despite sitting out the fourth quarter, Diana Taurasi just missed recording the fifth triple-double in league history, with nine points, eight rebounds and eight assists.
“I knew……,” Taurasi paused and smirked about possibly achieving a triple-double. “In a game like that, if you don’t get it, it’s all good. Today we had really good performances, so we just need everyone to put a little bit more into the pot. To see everyone else play really well is good for us, this team is really relaxed in a lot of ways.”
Phoenix’s bench accounted for a season-high 38 points, with a high of 13 from Erin Phillips, who executed a four-point play with a minute remaining in the third quarter.
“I was just shooting when I was open and shooting with confidence,” Phillips said. “We just need to keep playing our roles. We’ve just started getting into a nice rhythm, we played them early on in the season, we’re really starting to know how each other plays, and our chemistry on the court really shows.”
While Taurasi mentioned she was disappointed that Argentina lost in the World Cup Final, the Australian Phillips said she was motivated with having Michele Timms in the audience, who played in three Olympics with head coach Sandy Bronello.
“I thought she had really good poise tonight, and she’s a deadly shooter when she gets that open,” Brondello said of Phillips.
Kayla Alexander led the Stars with 11 points, Shenise Johnson scored 10, and Danielle Adams and Jayne Appel each grabbed seven rebounds with six points.
The Mercury turns right around with another home game at 7 p.m. Tuesday versus the Washington Mystics (ESPN2). It also hosts Connecticut at the same time Thursday before hosting the All-Star Game Saturday. The Stars’ next game is at Tulsa Thursday.
“We just need to prepare for them,” Bonner said of the Mystics. “They’re playing really well right now, they just came off a win, we’ll be ready.”