Arlington, Texas — The Phoenix Mercury have faced a rough stretch as of late without leading scorer and rebounder Brittney Griner.
Griner is currently sidelined with left knee and right ankle injuries, and without her the Mercury were on a two-game skid heading into Thursday night’s game against the Dallas Wings.
Down the stretch though, Phoenix found ways to have a balanced scoring effort, and ultimately, won the overtime thriller 101-100 thanks to a defensive stop.
“I think this is a big character-building game for us because we got down by six, we didn’t lose our composure, we made some plays when we needed to,” Phoenix head coach Sandy Brondello said after the win.
Thursday night’s game had just about everything that fans could ask for. There were 11 ties and 16 lead changes, nine of which came in the fourth quarter alone.
While Phoenix had a balanced scoring attack, including 17 points apiece from both Danielle Robinson and Emma Cannon, and 16 points from Diana Taurasi, the real star of the show was Monique Currie.
Currie, who had been coming off the bench but got the start on Thursday, recorded a game-high 29 points, six of which came in overtime. She also pulled down five boards and dished the ball for six assists.
The only way to describe Currie’s play is gutsy. She was active on the offensive end for the entire game, scoring in the paint and from deep. She also got to the free throw line plenty of times in the process.
“The bigs were setting really good screens, and I was able to get open,” Currie said.
“Had some good looks and knocked them down, so, you know, once you start hitting early, the basket gets bigger and bigger and bigger.”
While Taurasi only had six points until the fourth quarter, Currie was there keeping the Mercury afloat, all the way until overtime.
Once Dallas’ Glory Johnson (who finished the night with her third straight double-double after scoring 25 points and grabbing 15 rebounds) sent the game into overtime on an and-one basket, the Wings looked like they were rolling.
Including her basket and free throw, Dallas went on a 9-0 run through the beginning of the overtime period.
While the Wings held a 98-93 lead, Currie worked her way into the lane to draw a foul. Sinking both shots, she cut Dallas’ lead to just three points.
On the ensuing possession, Dallas turned the ball over. Currie once again worked her way into the lane on the offensive end to draw a foul. While she missed one shot, she whittled away the Dallas lead once again.
With less than a minute to go, Currie would hit the most important shot of the game.
At the top of the key, Taurasi found the open Currie on the wing. She would sink the open three-pointer to give Phoenix their first overtime lead, 99-98, with just 55 seconds to go.
Phoenix didn’t relinquish their lead for the rest of the night, and ended the game by playing tough defense for the final 15 seconds—so tough, that Dallas wouldn’t even be able to get a shot attempt up.
“I just think we didn’t give up, we stayed aggressive,” Currie said.
“We got down six, but everybody kept fighting. We went to the basket, got some foul calls, but I think the biggest thing was that we didn’t give up.”
In Griner’s absence, Phoenix has faced some ups and downs. Thanks to Currie, however, Thursday night will likely prove to be a huge up.