Headed into this game, the Phoenix Mercury had a record of 5-3. The Mercury were also on a three-game win streak. The Dallas Wings were on the opposite end of the spectrum. The Wings were 3-5 heading into this contest. However, despite their records, both teams were extremely competitive in this game.
The game started off with a Brittney Griner post move for an easy basket. The Mercury jumped to an early 4-0 lead. However, the Wings quickly closed in after an Arike Ogunbowale three-pointer. The next following minutes were very back and forth. The Wings made key jump shots. The Mercury would respond by consistently attacking the basket. The Mercury was able to get to the line early. Dallas was getting a lot of wide-open mid-range shots. Their ball movement through their motion offense was excellent. This allowed easy looks for Tyasha Harris and Isabelle Harrison. Because of this, Dallas was able to close the quarter out up 19-13.
The second quarter began similarly to the first with a wide-open Isabelle Harrison three-pointer. Kia Nurse substituted into the game for the Mercury and added the exact momentum they needed. Behind a Nurse assist, and a three-pointer the Mercury began closing in on the lead. While the Mercury’s offense was doing well, their defense continued to struggle. The Wings continued to shoot well and jumped back to another 8 point lead. The Mercury would continue to work through Griner for the remainder of the quarter. However, defensively they were not able to find an answer for the Wings motion offense. The Wings went into the half up 42-35.
In the second half, the Mercury continued to work through their superstar Griner. Griner came into the quarter extremely aggressive, scoring the Mercury’s first 7 points. Alisha Gray hit two key three-pointers to stop the bleeding. Although, the Mercury continued to progress and slowly fight back. Skylar Diggins and Brianna Turner were both large contributions to the comeback. Soon enough the Mercury had regained the lead for the first time since the first quarter. The Mercury lead 56-55. The Wings immediately responded with an Ogunbowale attack to the basket which resulted in free throws. The remainder of the quarter was very back and forth. The Wings were capitalizing off good looks from deep while the Mercury continued to attack the basket. Going into the fourth the score was tied at 61 apiece.
To call Brittany Griner and Arike Ogunbowale’s second-half performance anything less than dominant would be an understatement. Griner would finish with 27 points and 16 rebounds. Ogunbowale finished with 22 points. The fourth quarter was a display of both of their dominance in trying to will their teams to victory. The quarter began with Kayla Thornton and Griner going back and forth. Each of them scored the early baskets in the quarter for their respective teams. Diggins and Ogunbowale added to this both scoring as well. With the score at 70-68 with 5 minutes left the game seemed to be on track for a wild finish. A Thornton three-pointer seemed to put the game out of reach for the Mercury.
The Wings were up 11 with less than two minutes to go. However, that did not stop Diggins and Griner from continuing to dominate. Griner hit two free throws and made a layup. Diggins added onto this with two quick jumpers and a technical free throw. In a matter of a minute, the Mercury went on a 9-0 run. With 30 seconds left the Wings found themselves only up 2 points. The Wings slowly ran the clock down waiting for an open shot and Marina Mabrey had the biggest one of the night. Mabrey hits a clutch three with the shot clock expiring to give the Wings a 5 point lead with 11 seconds left. The Wings went on to win 85-81. The rematch is set for this Friday in Phoenix at 7:00 pm PST.