The Phoenix Mercury, who trailed by as much as 22, cut it to eight with 6:41 remaining but would get no closer as the New York Liberty closed the game on a 17-7 run to win 89-71 behind 28 points, 14 rebounds and seven assists from Breanna Stewart Sunday afternoon at Barclays Center in Brooklyn.
Liberty star Sabrina Ionescu missed her second consecutive game with a hamstring injury. Brittney Griner (hip) and Diana Taurasi (hamstring) were out for the Mercury.
The game appeared to be over with the Liberty (7-3) leading by 19 at the start of the fourth but from 8:29 remaining to 6:41 remaining, Phoenix (2-8) went on an 11-0 run to cut it to 72-64. Sug Sutton’s seventh assist of the game went to Sophie Cunningham for a layup that kicked off the run. Cunningham then made a three and a technical free throw to cut it to 72-59. A Moriah Jefferson steal would lead to a Cunningham transition three that capped the run. Off the steal, Sutton had the ball just inside the arc in Liberty territory and actually fell down, but still was able to pass the ball to Cunningham for the catch-and-shoot trey.
Marine Johannès threes at four minutes remaining and 2:50 remaining made it 78-66 NY and 82-67 NY, respectively. A 5-0 Jonquel Jones run then iced the game by making it 87-69 with 1:21 to go. Jones recorded her first double-double of the season with 13 points, 11 boards and three helpers.
The Liberty opened the game on a 7-0 run and, after the Mercury cut it to 11-8, New York closed the first on a 19-9 run to lead 30-17. The 7-0 run consisted of a Stewart bank-floater, a Betnijah Laney three and a Jones layup.
The Mercury opened the second quarter with a 4-0 run to cut it to nine. Michaela Onyenwere made a short pull-up jumper and Megan Gustafson sunk a turnaround hook shot. It remained around that nine-point margin for a good chunk of the frame, but NY eventually went on a 9-0 run from 4:53 to 2:00 that took the score from 39-31 in its favor to 48-31. The run featured six points from Stewart and a three from Courtney Vandersloot (eight points, six helpers). The Liberty would lead 53-34 at the break.
The third’s margin ranged from a 15-point NY lead to a 22-point NY lead. The frame was even at 16, leaving the score at 69-50 entering the fourth.
Stewart finished 11-of-13 from the free throw line. Cunningham (5-of-10 from three) posted a season-high 27 points in defeat. Sutton added 10 points and nine assists.
The Liberty attempted 11 more and made 10 more free throws than the Mercury. They also won the rebounding battle 39-27. New York won despite turning the ball over 20 times.