JOHN MARSHALL Sports Writer AP
PHOENIX – Diana Taurasi stalked Chicago’s Ellie Quigley most of the night, a grueling exercise in an already difficult game, especially for the 39-year-old.
As the second game of the WNBA Finals neared a tight finish, Phoenix Mercury looked at the player recently named the greatest player in WNBA’s 25-year history.
Anyone who knows anything about Taurasi knows what happened next.
Summoning the will that has made her great for so long, former Don Lugo Hai star scored eight of her 20 points in overtime to help Mercury even in the 1-1 WNBA Finals, with a 91-86 win over Sky on Wednesday night. … …
“Here comes the Goat,” said Mercury center Brittney Greener, who scored a goal and scored 29 points. “We know that time is passing, this is a decisive time, we all believe in the world she will make for us.”
Greener picked up Mercury early and got the Phoenix Suns court-seated players back on their feet with her second playoff dunk in the first quarter. She scored with an inverted jumper, which helped Phoenix retire by four points in the main game, but failed to block Courtney Wanderslot’s draw with just 4.4 seconds remaining.
Extra time is Taurasi’s time, and the league’s top scorer of all time has done what she does best.
With six points in three quarters, she opened overtime with a four-point and added a three-point, bringing Phoenix to 89-86 with 1:24 left. Taurasi then played a huge defensive game, intercepting the ball with 36 seconds remaining, and Skylar Diggins-Smith hitting the ball with 12.8 seconds remaining.
“When you’re in this moment, you feel the seriousness of what’s going on and you try to just climb every possession, every time out, really communicating with each other,” Taurasi said.
Chicago backed up their victory in the first game with another strong attacking performance, but were unable to complete it. Wandersloot hit the net with 20 points and 14 assists. Ellie Quigley added 19 points.
The third game of the five games in the series will take place on Friday in Chicago.
“We have a lot of weapons, and when they are taken away, we have to be confident and move them (the ball),” said Candice Parker of Chicago, who had 13 points and 9 rebounds. “We’ve done this before, but we need consecutive 40 or 45 minutes to move it.”
Chicago overcame some anxiety early on and took advantage of the short-handed and fatigue to win the first game 91-77. Parker had a calming effect with 16 points, while Kalia Copper scored 21 points.
Phoenix was left without defenders Kia Nurse (torn cruciate ligament) and Sophie Cunningham (calf) and was forced to play two days after winning the semifinals in Las Vegas.
Mercury had more time to prepare, and Cunningham returned after missing three games, but they were out early.
Chicago, one of the best attacking teams in the WNBA, were at their best, the clear transmission created an open mind. Sky knocked them down early with seven of their first 12 shots and a nine-point lead.
Phoenix visited Griner early and often. The 6’9 ” center dunked early after Skye inexplicably left her alone in the lane, putting the Suns players on their feet and hitting 14 points by halftime.
Cunningham hit a pair of threes to get Mercury out of an early deficit, and hit another one after a vicious crossover to help Phoenix survive even a 40-all at halftime.
“We put her in the starting lineup, we just thought it was the right way for us to start with our spins and the energy she brings,” said Mercury coach Sandy Brondello. “She was great for us.”
“Chicago” has again increased the momentum to start the third quarter, creating a seven point lead. In response, Phoenix returned the ball to Griner, which helped Mercury take the lead again in the fourth quarter.
Then it was Taurasi’s turn.
INDEPENDENCE OF A FREE THROW
The second game was physical throughout the game, and the referees seemed to allow the teams to play, including an exchange between Cunningham and Copper during the fight for the ball on the floor.
Phoenix was the winner with 10 of 11 free throws, while Chicago shot just four.
“I don’t understand what it means to play,” said Sky coach James Wade. “I’ve never heard that in a game. If they go to the free throw line, we have to. “
The third player among the Phoenix Big Three played quite well herself.
Diggins-Smith has controlled Arizona offensive from the start with 13 points, 12 assists and seven rebounds.
“Skylar would probably say, ‘I missed too many shots,’ but I thought that with her ability to help and just give us some light baskets, we needed that,” Brondello said.