ROSEMONT, Ill. (AP) The Phoenix Mercury scored a season-low and shot a season-worst 37.3 percent.
They still won.
The Mercury overcame an off shooting night and 17 turnovers to beat struggling Chicago Sky 72-66 on Friday night and extend their franchise-record winning streak to nine games.
”Sometimes you have to win ugly,” coach Sandy Brondello said. ”That was probably our worst performance of the year. You give credit to Chicago – they were way more aggressive, getting in passing lanes and taking us out of stuff we wanted to do. We struggled, but we just dug deep.”
After trailing by as many as six, the Mercury rallied in the third quarter as Diana Taurasi scored 13 of her team-high 19 points in the second half.
DeWanna Bonner added 13 points and Brittney Griner had 11 points and 10 rebounds for the Mercury (15-3), who have the league’s best record and top the Western Conference standings. Candice Dupree added 11 points and 11 rebounds, and Penny Taylor had 10 points.
Sylvia Fowles had 23 points and 11 rebounds while battling foul trouble for the Sky (8-12), who have lost four straight and 12 of 15.
They were without All-Star forward Elena Delle Donne and point guard Courtney Vandersloot. Delle Donne had a flare-up of Lyme disease and Vandersloot missed her fifth straight game with a sprained knee. She could be sidelined up to 10 weeks. Sky coach Pokey Chatman doesn’t expect Delle Donne to return until after the All-Star game on July 19.
Fowles re-entered the game with five fouls with 5:06 to go and the Mercury leading 60-57. Taurasi’s 3 gave Phoenix a 65-59 lead with 3:12 remaining. Tamera Young’s layup pulled the Sky to within 65-61, but Dupree came up with a steal and layup for a 67-61 lead to all but seal it with 1:18 left.
Jamierra Faulkner had 13 points and Young 12 for Chicago, which shot 40.9 percent from the field. Epiphanny Prince, who came in averaging 17.4 points, finished with five.
”We missed an opportunity to get a win against the best team in the league,” Chatman said. ”We had energy early, especially defensively.”
The Mercury came in averaging nearly 85 points per game.
”We just shot the ball poorly,” Brondello said. ”We had some wide-open looks. Tonight wasn’t one of those games. Our defense was good. To hold them to 66 points and Prince to five points is a great step for us.”
The Mercury tied it 42-42 on Bonner’s three-point play and Taurasi found Griner for a layup and a 44-42 lead, Phoenix’s first since the opening seconds. Griner was fouled and made the free throw.
”We have so many weapons,” said Taurasi, who had five assists. ”There’s never a bad moment to make a pass to someone on our team.”