Bonner's 35 points lead Mercury over SunSeptember 8, 2012
UNCASVILLE, CT. - The Phoenix Mercury, missing its best players for most of the season, made a statement Friday against the Eastern Conference leading Connecticut Sun with a 91-82 win, only its 7th of the season.
The Sun were outrebounded 45-21 (16-5 on the offensive boards) and trailed by double digits for most of the game. They never led.
Phoenix forward DeWanna Bonner, whose average 20 points a game has her among the league’s leading scorers, was the game’s high scorer with 35 points (three fewer than her season high), 18 of them three-pointers. She normally shoots 26 percent from long range, but during one stretch at the start of the third quarter when the Mercury (7=20) were 5 of 8 from the arc, she made back to back threes to give them a 21- point lead, their largest of the night.
“Today they were falling for me,” Bonner said of the threes. “They were hitting at the right time and I was (getting) great screens” from teammates.
The 6-4 forward, who played at Auburn, has had to take a leadership role in the front court with the season-long absence of Australian Penny Taylor, one of the league’s best front court players.
Diana Taurasi, a former UConn all-American and member of the 2012 gold-medal winning Olympic team, played only 17 and a half minutes but made the count with 16 points, including 2 three-pointers. She had missed much of the regular season with a hip flexor issue. Starting pointguard Samantha Prahalis sustained a shoulder injury earlier this week and did not play Friday.
The Mercury shot 43.8 percent, holding the sun to 38.7 percent shooting, but it was their board play that spelled the difference in the game, outrebounding the Sun 45-21, which ;led to 14 second chance points.
“At least 50 percent of rebounding is effort,” said Sun Head Coach Mike Thibault. “We got outworked on the boards.” Thibault said he couldn’t remember when the Sun had been outrebounded by that large a margin (24 boards).
He speculated that part of the reason that his team played poorly (was that they may have taken the Mercury for granted after Phoenix got pounded 87-59 at New York (shooting just 22 percent0 two nights ago.
That game “may have given them a false sense of security,” he said of Phoenix, which has been close to or in the Western Conference cellar most of the season. The team won the WNBA championship in 2007 and 2009.
The Sun made a run in the second half cutting the lead to five points behind Renee Montgomery’s offense (season high 25 points) but could only manage 2 points in the last minute while Phoenix scored 6 and grabbed three rebounds.
“We have to be weary of staying focused and staying in a game, said Montgomery. “Even when we’re down, we have to make sure that every one is focused and locked in.”
The Sun will try to refocus Sunday when they play conference rival Chicago at the Mohegan Sun Arena at 5 p.m.