Phoenix, AZ -- In their first meeting of the season, the Dallas Wings were able to outscore the Phoenix Mercury, 68-58, but the Wings headed into Saturday's rematch at Talking Stick Resort Arena, in Arizona, lacking the confidence they previously had. The Wings’ center, 6-foot-4 Courtney Paris, suffered a knee injury Thursday night and is expected to be out for six to eight weeks which was a big absence for Dallas.
Saturday night Phoenix answered the question on everyone’s mind: with home court advantage and a star center missing from the opponent’s roster, would they be able to pull out a victory? Yes.
Not only did the Mercury win, they dominated, 107-65. Their 42-point triumph marks their largest margin of victory in franchise history.
Dallas took an early lead, but Phoenix wrapped up the first quarter with the advantage, 25-17, and from then on, it was smooth sailing. Phoenix showed it is one of the best defensive teams in the league Saturday night, holding the Wings to under 20 points in every quarter.
“When we play hard and we get stops and we can get out and show our offensive talents. We need to continue to keep up the defense. Some nights all those shots will go in and some nights they won’t, but if we’re consistent with our defense that’s going to keep us in the game,” said Phoenix guard Leilani Mitchell.
The Mercury got big production out of their bench, as the reserves tallied 63 points and 25 rebounds. Four different Mercury players, Mitchell, Emma Cannon, Shay Murphy and Cayla George, scored in double-figures off the bench. Cannon set a new career-high of 12-points, and also contributed the most rebounds in the game, eight.
Mitchell was the high-scorer of the game with 19-points for Phoenix, while Murphy (11) and George (10) all set new season-highs.
Forward Glory Johnson carried the Wings, with 12 points. Allisha Gray led with six rebounds and Skylar Diggins-Smith with four assists.
“Obviously we are disappointed in the first game that we played, we allowed too many points in the paint and obviously they smashed us on the boards. It’s been a while since we won the rebound margin against Dallas and it was something we focused on coming into this game,” said Phoenix coach Sandy Brondello.
The Wings allowed 41 rebounds after holding the Mercury to a franchise low of 17 in their last matchup.
“They decided that they were going to make sure that they hit the offensive boards this time around and we didn’t as much,” Johnson said of her team’s 34 rebounds.
“Typically we have Courtney Paris in there with us and it’s me and Courtney battling on the boards. We kind of had to make an adjustment. We have players that aren’t used to playing with each other, and at the end of the day they made sure that they were going to rebound this game because of how the last game went, and that was just an adjustment that we didn’t handle well.”
Dallas (2-2) struggled from the field Saturday night shooting 32.3% from the field and only 19% from the three-point line, while Phoenix nearly made half of its shot at 48.6% and 48% from the three.
“The ball was not going through the net,” said Dallas coach Fred Williams. “Everything they threw up kind of went in for them tonight. We’ll see them in Dallas.”
So, what’s next for the teams?
The Wings will return home and face the 2-2 Indiana Fever on Tuesday, May 30. Phoenix will be en route to Chicago to play the 1-4 Sky on Thursday, June 1.