The Dallas Wings earned a second consecutive win Thursday night, using tough defense and plenty of second chances on the boards to handle the Phoenix Mercury, 69-54.
On paper, this might not have been the friendliest matchup for the Wings. Forward Glory Johnson is currently fulfilling EuroBasket obligations for Montenegro, while her frontcourt partner Isabelle Harrison remains sidelined due to illness — not an ideal situation when facing the 6-foot-9 Brittney Griner and versatile DeWanna Bonner.
The Wings stood their ground, though, frustrating Griner into a 3-of-15 shooting performance and shutting down the Mercury everywhere else. Phoenix shot just 24.6 percent from the field — the lowest field goal percentage by any team thus far in the season — and was out-rebounded, 49-28.
Leading the effort for the Wings was forward Kayla Thornton, whose 18 points and 11 rebounds were both game highs. While her work on the boards shouldn’t have been surprising to anyone who has watched her play, it was Thornton’s offense that turned heads. In particular, she hit a pair of three-pointers in late shot clock situations, bailing out the rest of her team and stymieing any Mercury momentum.
Granted, the Wings were far from perfect, shooting just 5-of-22 on three-point attempts and turning the ball over 18 times. But it was more than enough to defeat the struggling Mercury, which has now dropped three straight games and sits at the bottom of the WNBA standings.
The good news for Phoenix is that franchise cornerstone Diana Taurasi seems to be ready to return. According to the AZ Central’s Jeff Metcalfe, Taurasi will make her season debut on Sunday against the Los Angeles Sparks. Meanwhile, the Wings’ frontcourt will be tested once again when they take on the Las Vegas Aces on Saturday.