Dynamic trio brings 2nd title to Mercury
No wonder they win WNBA championships.
Diana Taurasi, Cappie Pondexter and Penny Taylor — who
led the team to its 2007 title — did it again in 2009, when the Mercury held
off a late rally by the tenacious Indiana Fever for a 94-86 victory in the
deciding Game 5 Friday night.
League and finals MVP Taurasi scored 26 points, Pondexter
had 24, and
made two crucial free throws with 37.7 seconds left for the Mercury, who won
the last two games to take the intense series 3-2.
“This is what we do, we make big plays,”
Taurasi said, holding a towel over her head in the champagne-drenched locker
room. “We have people that step up and love to live the moment. It’s a
great team, great team.”
When it was over, the three hugged in elation, and Taylor
— the Australian who joined the team Aug. 1 after reconstructive ankle surgery
— broke down in tears.
“I was only here from half the season but it was a
long half and it’s been a hard half,” she said. “Just the build up of
that emotion of wanting to do so well, and wanting to do well for your
teammates, wanting to win every game and it’s just a release right now that we
have been able to do it,”
Tammy Sutton-Brown scored 22 points, and Jessica
Davenport had a career-high 18 for
in its first finals appearance. Tamika Catchings added 16 points and nine
rebounds for the Fever.
“I thought we played about as well as we could
play,” Fever coach Lin Dunn said. “I thought there were a couple of
times that we missed some shots that maybe could have helped us win a
championship, but they didn’t fall.”
Sutton-Brown pointed to the crucial home loss in Game 4.
“We had an opportunity to close it out at home, and
we let that one slip away,” she said, “but I think we came out and
fought hard tonight.
is a great team. I think it was a great series. It was great for the
rallied from 10 down in the second half to tie it at 80 on Sutton-Brown’s layup
with 4:29 to play, then Tangela Smith made two 3-pointers, her only field goals
of the night, to put the Mercury ahead for good.
Her second, after
Pondexter’s 9-footer made it 88-82 with 2:22 left, but
the Fever — who had led the series 2-1 — weren’t finished.
then Catchings’ rebound basket made it 88-86 with 2:07 to play.
On the Mercury’s next possession,
a crowd of defenders.
the foul, and
two free throws made it 90-86. Two free throws apiece DeWanna Bonner and
Taurasi provided the final margin.
a great team,” said Pondexter, who kept scoring despite taking an elbow to
the right eye in the second quarter. “It just shows our resilience and how
bad we really wanted to win.”
and Bonner 13 for
Katie Douglas had her second straight rough shooting night. The
for 13 points after going 2 of 14 in Game 4. The Mercury made 10 of 17 3s.
“I don’t know. I wasn’t worried about it
feel for most of the shots, they just didn’t fall.”
won it with the super-speed style that then-coach Paul Westhead used in 2007
and Corey Gaines adopted when he took over.
“When I first started coaching in the WNBA coach
Westhead, who is my mentor — who we owe this championship to as much as him
being here right now — he told me, `We’re going to coach the players as
players, not women, ball players'” Gaines said. “And it’s funny how
they embraced it because they enjoyed being treated that way. Instead of being
treated as women basketball players, we treat them as ball players.”
After a cold-shooting first quarter, the Mercury turned
it on with one of their best 10 minutes of the season, shooting a finals record
76.5 percent (13 of 17) — and they even missed their last two shots — in a
second-quarter record for points, outscoring
Taurasi, after struggling with her shot against
Catchings’ defense in the first four games, was 5 for 5 in a 13-point second
quarter, three of them 3-pointers. Her NBA-length 3 from the top of the key
with 6:19 left in the half gave her 10 points already in the quarter and put
The Mercury made 13 of their first 15 shots
The Mercury led by as many as 10 in the third quarter,
but rookie Briann January — from nearby Arizona State — sank a 3-pointer with
36.7 seconds left to cut Phoenix’s lead to 70-65 entering the fourth.
January’s 3-pointer, followed by Sutton-Brown’s inside
basket that made it 80-80 with 4:29 to go.
Phoenix Suns captains Amare Stoudemire, Steve Nash and
Grant Hill purchased the tickets in the upper bowl of US Airways Center, then
gave them away, leading to a sellout crowd of 17,313.