Mercury Take Wild Game 1 From Silver Stars, Despite Late Heroics From Hammon
By ELIZABETH WHITE, Associated Press Writer

Phoenix 102, San Antonio 100

SAN ANTONIO, Aug. 30 (AP) -- Cappie Pondexter scored 26 points - including two crucial free throws with 2.1 seconds left - to lift the Phoenix Mercury to a 102-100 victory over the San Antonio Silver Stars in Game 1 of the Western Conference Finals Thursday night.

Phoenix led from the second quarter until the last seconds of the fourth. Shanna Crossley made three free throws with 15 seconds remaining after being fouled by Diana Taurasi on a 3-point attempt to pull San Antonio to 100-97.

Taurasi then lost the ball out of bounds, and Becky Hammon hit a 3-pointer for the Silver Stars to tie the game at 100 with 2.1 seconds left. However, Crossley fouled Pondexter on the inbounds play, and Pondexter hit both free throws.

Crossley's 3-point attempt at the buzzer didn't fall.

Phoenix, which won the season series 3-1, now returns home for Game 2 on Saturday and Game 3, if necessary, on Sunday.

Taurasi scored 20 points, including 4-for-7 shooting on 3-pointers, for top-seeded Phoenix. Penny Taylor added 18 points and 14 rebounds, and Tangela Smith had 17 points.

Hammon had 32 points and Sophia Young added 24 points and 18 rebounds for the Silver Stars.

The Mercury finished the game with a 36-1 advantage on fast-break points.

Hammon had 13 points in the third quarter, highlighted by an acrobatic layup followed by a 3-pointer in the last 1:03 of the period. That pulled the Silver Stars to 70-69 with 45 seconds to go after trailing by as many as six.

Phoenix hit the go-ahead basket, a running jumper from Pondexter with 1:55 left in the second quarter, to take a 41-40 lead. The Mercury pushed the advantage to 50-47 at halftime.

Ruth Riley had 11 points on 5-for-8 shooting in the opening two periods for San Antonio. Taurasi led the Mercury with 13 points, including consecutive threes for a 47-42 lead.

The teams were tied at 20 at the end of the first quarter - one of 10 ties in the first half and 14 for the game.

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