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WNBA: Diana Taurasi and rising Mercury take one from the Lynx 80-72.

It was a rough return home for the defending Champion Minnesota Lynx against a fired up Mercury squad. Phoenix displayed tremendous effort on both sides of the ball. Offensively they were playing in unison, making the extra pass, and choosing their shots wisely.

WNBA: Minnesota Lynx Vs Phoenix Mercury 06-15-2014
Matthew Fleegel
WNBA: Minnesota Lynx Vs Phoenix Mercury 06-15-2014.
Matthew Fleegel

On the defensive end: the Mercury were doing a great job of standing tough in the lanes, picking up their assignments, and frustrating a Lynx team that had trouble getting their shots to fall throughout the contest.

“They played good defense, but we also just missed shots. We got to the basket a couple of times and shots were just going in and out. Give them credit, they played hard. We saw that first game now, we have to understand it, recognize it, and move on.”

Minnesota Lynx center Janel McCarville

The first quarter belonged to Phoenix 26-12, ending with a 17-4 run over the final 6:30 of the first. Diana Taurasi led the charge with 9 points and 3 assists, while forward DeWanna Bonner added 7 points, and forward Candice Dupree pulled down 6 rebounds.

Minnesota couldn’t find their shot in the first, putting up a dismal 33% from the floor on 6-18 shooting, and didn’t see much improvement in the second only converting on 8-22 from the floor.

Phoenix showed tremendous efficiency on offense shooting 59% during the first half as the Mercury built a 50-31 lead at the break. Penny Taylor and Diana Taurasi pushed the break consistently, while DeWanna Bonner, Candice Dupree, and Brittney Griner held down the paint, and took advantage on the glass.

“I think we pushed the tempo, probably the things they’ve been doing to us the past few years, we did it to them. Sometimes it’s just the will, energy, and effort and we had a good amount of that.”

Phoenix Mercury guard Diana Taurasi

The Lynx showed signs of resiliency during the third, moving the ball better and spreading the scoring with 7 players getting on the scoreboard to put a dent in the Mercury’s lead. Phoenix answered with second-year center Brittney Griner, who caught fire putting up 12 points and recording 2 blocks during the quarter. Candice Dupree put up the other 6 of Phoenix's 18 third quarter points as the teams headed into the final quarter 68-54.

“This is not who we want to be. We have our moments but we have to put together consistent quarters, consistent halves, and consistent games. This is something we have to get ourselves out of… We have a long week, so we have plenty of opportunities for our team to get that done. That’s where our focus is going to be.”

Minnesota Lynx forward Maya Moore

Key reserve Monica Wright returned from injury, and was greeted by a roar of applause from Lynx faithful as she saw her first action of the season during the fourth quarter. Minnesota made a push by pulling to within 6 as the game-clock ran down, and showed great production from bench players Tan White, and Asia Taylor.

The Lynx defense finally made an impact by holding Phoenix to 36% while taking advantage on the boards 12-8 during the final quarter. Unfortunately for Minnesota, the gap built by the Mercury was already too wide, and they were not able to bring the game within reach.

Key performers for the Lynx were made by rookie Damiris Dantas, who pulled down a double-double with 10 points and 12 rebounds. Veteran reserve Tan White had a solid performance, putting up 13 points and 6 rebounds, while rookie Asia Taylor was able to contribute 9 points in just shy of 15 minutes. High points belonged to Maya Moore with 14, but her 6-18 shooting on the night combined with her 5 turnovers showed she was clearly trying to do too much and earned her a seat on the bench for the majority of the final quarter.

The Phoenix Mercury (7-3), who took the lead early, fought to hold off the WNBA Champion Lynx (8-3) at the Target Center 80-72. All five starters played well for Phoenix, Candice Dupree recorded a double-double pairing 18 points with 10 rebounds. Brittney Griner put up 14 points to go with 7 rebounds, and 4 blocks.

Player of the game honors go to Mercury guard Diana Taurasi who finished the night with 21 points, 11 assists, 6 rebounds, and 2 blocked shots.

“They’re (the Lynx) a great team, and to win on their home court is fantastic for us. They’ve had our number on this team for a long time, and we had to fight down the stretch there. You know Minnesota never gives in. It’s just a big win for us.”

Phoenix Mercury Head Coach Sandy Brondello

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