The Phoenix Mercury entered Friday night’s game against the top-seeded Seattle Storm needing a win to keep their season alive. Even a poor shooting night from Diana Taurasi couldn’t stop them — DeWanna Bonner and Brittney Griner came through with excellent games, while Yvonne Turner had a breakout game en route to a convincing Game 3 win for the home team.
Phoenix Mercury (86) vs. Seattle Storm (66)
The Mercury jumped out to a fast start, riding a 12-2 run to a 17-6 lead early in the first quarter. Phoenix ended the quarter leading 26-16, but Seattle’s bench came charging back in the second quarter, opening the period with an 11-2 run. The Storm took their first lead of the game with just under five minutes to play in the half, but Phoenix responded strong with a 10-0 run, re-asserting their first half dominance and opening a 42-35 halftime lead.
Diana Taurasi may have had a slow start, missing her first seven shots, but DeWanna Bonner came through with 18 first half points to lead the Mercury charge. Seattle’s bench outscored their starting unit 19-16 in the first half, keeping the favorites in the game.
In the third quarter, a controversial fourth foul called on a Brittney Griner screen opened the door for a Seattle run, but Phoenix held onto their lead thanks to the continued excellent play of Bonner and a strong quarter from sparkplug Yvonne Turner, starting in place of the injured Stephanie Talbot. Bonner, who earlier this week became the first player in WNBA history to start the playoffs with three straight games of at least 20 points and 10 rebounds, reached that mark once again in the third.
Taurasi remained scoreless entering the fourth quarter. No matter — Bonner came through again. With seven minutes to go, Bonner came away with a misplaced Sue Bird pass, dribbling the length of the court and sinking the layup while being fouled. She made the following free throw as well, matching Phoenix’s largest lead of the game (12 points) with under seven minutes to play.
On Phoenix’s next possession, Taurasi scored her first points of the game, opening up the Mercury’s largest lead of the game. She hit her first three of the game a few minutes later, as Phoenix absolutely dominated the fourth quarter en route to the win.
Bonner finished the game with 27 points and 11 rebounds, while Griner had 21 points and 11 rebounds. Turner chipped in 19 points, seven rebounds, six assists and some excellent defense, including three steals. Taurasi finished the game three of 11 from the floor, scoring eight points in the win.
For Seattle, MVP Breanna Stewart scored 15 points, but shot just seven of 23 from the floor (and made just one of eight attempts from behind the line). Natasha Howard led the team with 19 points, while Jordin Canada (11 points) and Crystal Langhorne (also 11 points) contributed with solid games off the bench.
The Storm, who entered the playoffs as the No. 1 seed and likely favorites to win it all, won the first two games of the series 91-87.