Mercury 91, Sun 82
UNCASVILLE, Conn. (AP)
DeWanna Bonner was determined not to let the Phoenix Mercury get embarrassed for the second straight game.
Bonner had 35 points and seven rebounds to lead the Mercury past the Eastern Conference-leading Connecticut Sun 91-82 on Friday night.
Diana Taurasi scored 16 minutes in just 18 minutes, and Krystal Thomas had 16 rebounds - including seven on the offensive end - for the Mercury (7-20), who were coming off a 28-point loss to the New York Liberty two nights earlier.
''I was a tough night in New York,'' said Bonner, who shot 12 for 23 from the field, including 6 for 11 on 3-pointers. ''Losing by (almost) 40 will kind of motivate any team. I had to do better.''
Renee Montgomery had 25 points for Connecticut (20-8) and Tina Charles added 18.
The Sun's loss, coupled with Indiana's 82-78 win at San Antonio, cut their lead over the second-place Fever to 1 1/2 games.
It was Connecticut's second-straight home loss, and dropped them to 9-5 at Mohegan Sun Arena this season after going 15-2 here a year ago.
''We have an opportunity with two games at home here (this weekend) to build some momentum before we go out on the road,'' Connecticut's Kara Lawson said. ''What's the point of securing home-court (in the playoffs) if you can't win at home?
''The brand of basketball we're playing right now, we can't win in the playoffs because we don't have the focus and the execution that's necessary right now. It's in us. The wheels aren't falling off, but this was disappointing.''
Phoenix, which finished with a 45-21 rebounding edge, scored the game's first seven points and never trailed. The Mercury led 73-52 with more than 2 minutes left in the third quarter.
Bonner made five straight shots in the first quarter, including two 3s, to push Phoenix ahead 22-14.
The Mercury made 12 of 19 field goals (63 percent) in the first period.
Phoenix pushed its lead to 37-18 with more than 6 minutes left in the first half when Montgomery shot her team back into the game. She made three straight 3s, two of which she was fouled and completed four-point plays.
Lawson followed with her own 3 as Connecticut closed its deficit to 42-32.
The Sun got as close as 47-40 with under a minute on Montgomery's two free throws.
However, Taurasi hit a jumper with 26.7 seconds left, and Bonner was fouled by Montgomery while shooting a 3 with 2.1 seconds remaining and made all three free throws to give the Mercury a 52-40 lead at the break
''My teammates did a great job of screening and putting the ball in the perfect spot for me,'' Bonner said. ''Before the game, me and (Phoenix head coach) Corey (Gaines) talked a little bit about just shooting the ball and being aggressive.''
Taurasi and Bonner each made a 3 to start the second half.
Thomas made the first of two free throws as Phoenix went ahead, 59-40, with more than 8 minutes left in the third quarter.
Connecticut pulled to 83-76 with more than 4 minutes left in the fourth.
Charde Houston missed a 3 for Phoenix, but Thomas grabbed the offensive rebound. Moments later, Houston made a driving layup to give the Mercury an 85-76 edge with more than 3 minutes remaining.