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Recap: Phoenix ends Mystics’ win streak at four games in Saturday night slug fest

Washington kept it close and threatened to force a tie-game, buzzer-beater situation late in the fourth. But the Mercury pulled away with the win in a game in which Sancho Lyttle went down with a knee injury.

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WNBA: Chicago Sky at Phoenix Mercury
Sancho Lyttle

Elena Delle Donne didn’t do it again, but her double-double sure kept it close — even threatening a repeat of the buzzer-beater situation the Mystics had experienced in Thursday night’s win over the Liberty.

Delle Daaaaaaaang Girl Donne scored 27 points and grabbed 13 boards in the loss — game highs in both categories.

Stellar performances from Delle Donne, Natasha Cloud (10 points) and Tayler Hill (11 points off the bench, to thunderous applause from the DC crowd) were not enough to prevent the Mystics’ win streak from ending at four games.

This, despite having outplayed the Mercury for much of the game, to the point that it seems the score should be reversed. Delle Donne blamed mental lapses on Washington’s inability to tie the game and take the lead.

“I felt like a couple times in the game there’d be a shift in momentum, and we’d be coming back like, ‘Alright, we’re going to take the lead’ and then just something little would happen and we’d have a mental lapse,” Delle Donne said. “[Phoenix] is just too good for that. You can’t make mistakes like that. You have to always get a great possession and give yourself a chance. They’re a great team. We were able to learn a lot and see that we can hang with them.”

In the victory, Brittney Griner scored a team-high 24 points, DeWanna Bonner added 23 and Yvonne Turner scored 12 points and pulled down 9 rebounds off the bench for a near-double-double. On what turned out to be a quiet night for the WNBA scoring leader and three-point leader, Diana Taurasi scored 7 points, dished 9 assists and snagged 8 rebounds.

If a GOAT’s shot isn’t falling, she will find other ways to help her team and Taurasi did just that.

The win makes it three in a row for Phoenix, a 13-5 record, and a two-game lead over the LA Sparks and Seattle Storm in the standings. But with the victory came a big loss when Sancho Lyttle went down with a non-contact knee injury. An update has not been provided as of time of publication but, by all appearances, the injury would be a hyperextension at best but, more likely, something more serious, given that the knee buckled without contact.

If it turns out Lyttle will miss significant time, the Mercury will have a hard time filling her shoes. The box score often doesn’t show it, but Lyttle is a master screener and an overall important part of the Mercury’s play-making engine. On defense, her effort knows no bounds and she is admired for her ability to guard all five players in any given possession.

Final score: 84-74

Next up ...

Shoni Schimmel is scheduled for a post-game Q & A following the Mercury’s matchup against the Connecticut Sun at Talking Stick Resort Arena on July 5. Also on that day, Washington has a rematch against the New York Liberty.