Mercury try to build on long-awaited win
By MATT BEARDMORE
Veteran point guard Becky Hammon said that the San Antonio Silver Stars aren’t looking past the rest of the regular season.
That’s probably a good idea for a squad that hasn’t matched up well lately with other playoff-bound teams.
San Antonio will try to avoid a season-high third consecutive loss Saturday night when it visits a Phoenix Mercury team seeking back-to-back wins for the first time in 2012.
After their franchise-record 12-game winning streak ended with a 101-77 loss at Los Angeles on Aug. 23, the Silver Stars (17-8) clinched one of the four playoff spots in the Western Conference with a 91-71 victory over Tulsa last Saturday.
Since then, though, San Antonio has lost 96-84 in overtime at league-best Minnesota and 84-73 to East-leading Connecticut on Thursday.
The Silver Stars had won nine straight at home before falling to the Sun.
“Every game is important,” Hammon said after taking a season-low three field-goal attempts and scoring eight points – about half her season average.
“… You cannot get ahead of yourself in this league.”
That means not overlooking the Mercury (5-19), who ended a franchise-record 10-game skid with Thursday’s 75-68 win at Seattle.
It was Phoenix’s first victory since June 29 at Chicago.
“Man, it’s been a long time since we’ve won,” said DeWanna Bonner, who scored 24 points to lift her season average to 20.1 – second-best in the league.
“It felt really good to go out there and get a win on the road.”
Winning at home is the next step for the Mercury, who have dropped a team-record seven straight in the desert.
After falling at San Antonio in the first two meetings this season, Phoenix’s skid in this series reached four with an 89-47 home loss Aug. 19. It was the most lopsided defeat in Mercury history.
That was the Silver Stars’ franchise-record seventh consecutive road win, but they’ve since lost both of their games away from home while giving up more than 95 points in each. They haven’t allowed more than 85 in any other game all season.
San Antonio will likely get its first look of the season at Diana Taurasi. The league’s reigning scoring champ missed the Aug. 19 matchup due to a dental procedure and was sidelined for the two games in San Antonio with a hip injury.
Taurasi has 32 points over the last two games after being sidelined the previous 19.
The Silver Stars are going for their first season sweep of Phoenix since winning three matchups in 2008.