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Mercury rout Storm for 8th straight win Sky fall

PHOENIX, July 10, (AP): The Phoenix Mercury used a huge second quarter run and stifling defense to win a franchise record eighth straight game. Penny Taylor had 14 points to lead a balanced offense and the Mercury scored 19 straight points to rout Seattle 78-58 on Wednesday. The Mercury (14-3) outscored the Storm 21-4 in the second quarter, including the 19-point run that finally ended on a Camille Little jumper with 28.8 seconds to go until halftime. The four points allowed in a quarter tied a Mercury franchise record low. ‘’That’s something that we put our hat on all season long, is to play good defense, and I thought that the activity and the pressure that we had there just took them out of the game,’’ Mercury coach Sandy Brondello said. Brittney Griner added 13 points, eight rebounds and a career-high five assists.

The Storm (8-13) went more than seven minutes between baskets in the second quarter. Seattle led 14-8 in the first quarter after a Crystal Langhorne jumper, part of her eight points in the quarter. But the Mercury tied it at 16 just before the end of the first, then took over in the second. Storm coach Brian Agler was whistled for a technical foul at the 2:30 mark for arguing too long with an official, but by then his team trailed by 12. ‘’They started forcing us to get turnovers, we didn’t execute and turned the ball over and when a team is that talented offensively, you cant let them get in transition,’’ Langhorne said. The Mercury continued to roll on offense, taking a 53-23 lead with 5:42 to play in the third quarter on a layup, foul and free throw from Taylor. Phoenix outscored Seattle 26-16 in the third and pulled its starters before the quarter ended.

Mystics 72, Sky 65

In Rosemont, Ill, The Washington Mystics were cruising to an easy victory before Chicago almost spoiled it. ‘’We held on for dear life,’’ said Mystics coach Mike Thibault after his team secured a 72-65 victory in front of a Sky record 16,402 fans on Wednesday. ‘’We missed the same shots in the fourth quarter that we were making the whole game and Sylvia was great in the fourth quarter.’’ Sylvia Fowles scored 10 of her 19 points in the final period as Chicago rallied from a 13-point deficit to pull within five following her free throw with 2:41 left. The Sky could never get closer. The Mystics (8-12) snapped a threegame losing streak as Bria Hartley led a balanced offense with 16 points. Emma Meesseman had 12 points and 12 rebounds while Kia Vaughn added 10 points. The Sky (8-11) dropped their third straight and 11th in their last 15 despite

Fowles’ 19 points and 17 rebounds. Epiphanny Prince scored 14 points, Jamierra Faulkner had 13 and Jessica Breland added 10 while Tamera Young had 12 rebounds for Chicago. Fowles was playing in her sixth game since returning from hip surgery. While Fowles is healthy now, Chicago was still without Elena Delle Donne, who missed her 10th game and fifth straight with a flare-up of Lyme Disease symptoms. Also out is point guard Courtney Vandersloot, the WNBA assists leader (6.4), who is expected to be sidelined up to 10 weeks with a sprained knee. Without two of their starters, the Sky shot a season-low 31.3 percent (21-for- 67) and just 1-for-11 from beyond the arc.

Stars 80, Liberty 66

In San Antonio, San Antonio coach Dan Hughes knows what the Stars are capable of offensively. However, he credited an added emphasis on defense with helping the team win four of its last five games. Kayla McBride matched her career high with 30 points and San Antonio never trailed in rolling to an 80-66 victory over the New York Liberty on Wednesday night. McBride and Adams had five points each as the Stars scored the game’s first 14 points. The Liberty finally got on the scoreboard when Tina Charles hit an 18- foot jumper with 4:19 left in the first quarter. ‘’The real story is defensively for us right now,’’ Hughes said. ‘’What a difference it makes on this basketball team when we defend.’’ Adams scored 16 points and Danielle Robinson added 13 as San Antonio (11-9) improved to 4-5 at home.

Sugar Rodgers had a career-high 21 points and Cappie Pondexter added 17 points for New York (7-12), which snapped a three-game winning streak. The Liberty were just 2 for 11 on 3-pointers (18 percent) and finished 38 percent from the field overall. ‘’If we become a team that is defensiveminded, there will be enough offensive execution and ball movement to play to,’’ Hughes said. ‘’Our mindset has got to stay on the defensive end. I’ve really preached that to them and I think they’ve done a great job of trying to bring that out home or away.’’

San Antonio demonstrated its increased defensive effort early, bolting to a double-digit lead as New York missed its first 12 shots. ‘’I thought they came out with a lot of energy in the first half, in the first quarter, especially’’ Liberty coach Bill Laimbeer said. ‘’We did not. We’ve been playing very hard, playing good basketball and tonight we just didn’t have it for whatever reason and they took it to us.’’ Many of New York’s misses in the game-opening drought were on open jumpers and a few contested shots in the paint that Laimbeer thought were fouls.

Hughes credited center Jayne Appel with the Liberty’s early struggles in the paint. Appel finished with one block and two points, but altered numerous shots. ‘’Jayne Appel doesn’t get a lot of credit in a lot of situations,’’ Hughes said. ‘’She does so many things that we appreciate, (like) her ability to kind of anchor our defense inside. For a player that scored only two points, she gets nine boards and she to me is one of the best defensive players in the league. When players are buying into that and bringing that all of a sudden, the emphasis goes to the right spot.’’

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