WASHINGTON — One night after the Phoenix Mercury routed the Indiana Fever, they will face a sterner test against the Washington Mystics on Sunday at Capital One Arena.
The visiting Mercury — in the midst of a season-long four game road trip — outscored the one-win Fever 29-13 in the second quarter and led by as many as 32 points in the third quarter of a 95-77 win.
Diana Taurasi scored 25 points and Brittney Griner added 20 for the Mercury (12-5), who have won 10 of 12. DeWanna Bonner chipped in 15 points and nine rebounds.
The Mercury took advantage of Fever foul trouble — making 21 of 21 free throws — and missed offensive Indiana chances to pull away. They also outrebounded the Fever 33-19.
“A team that’s high-powered, a team that has a big in the middle, a team that has some high scoring people,” Fever coach Pokey Chatman told the Indianapolis Star about Phoenix. “(Mistakes) just aid in the demise.”
Halfway through a four-game homestand, Washington (10-5) moved to the top of the Eastern Conference.
The Mystics have won four straight, the latest in dramatic fashion when Elena Delle Donne’s 3-pointer from the top of the key beat the buzzer and the New York Liberty 80-77.
Delle Donne scored a team-high 22 points and her lone 3-pointer salvaged a night the Mystics didn’t shoot particularly well and squandered a 10-point third quarter lead.
“Sometimes you don’t play your best basketball and figure out how to win a game,” Mystics coach Mike Thibaut told the Washington Post. “And that’s what we did. … The things that we preach every day can actually get you through bad shooting nights actually came through tonight.”
Washington sank 21 of 22 free throws and forced 15 turnovers. Shatori Walker-Kimbrough had 12 points and Kristi Toliver had 10 points for Washington as the Mystics avoided a home loss to the Liberty (4-10).
“There’s games where you don’t have the right mojo or the right energy all the time, but to come away with a win, being at home, it was huge for us to come away with this one,” Donne said. “Even though it was a bit ugly.”
Saturday’s game features the WNBA’s top two 3-point shooting teams.
Individually, Taurasi entered Friday second in WNBA scoring (20.6 points per game) with Delle Donne fifth (19.9), and Taurasi and Delle Donne were first and second in free-throw percentage, respectively. Briann January of the Mercury is tops in 3-point field goal percentage and Griner leads in blocks.
The Mystics and Mercury met May 30 in Phoenix with Washington winning 103-95 without Delle Donne. Toliver pumped in 30 points for Washington, Griner scored 27 and Bonner had 25.