Mercury's Win Against Sky Shows Unity

By Ben York, PhoenixMercury.com

Effort and heart.

There's no better way to describe the Mercury's 84-81 victory against the Sky in Chicago.

Unbiased individuals looking at tonight's game most likely theorized that the Sky would roll to an easy win. After all, the Mercury were playing without Candice Dupree and Nakia Sanford for the fourth straight game, are missing four of five starters, and are on the second game of a season-long four game road trip.

But as they say, that's why we play the game.

Poise, determination and hustle ultimately willed Phoenix to a win.

DeWanna Bonner had another stellar first half scoring 17 points while leading the Mercury to a six point halftime lead. Finishing with a career best 27 points while tallying seven rebounds and three blocked shots, Bonner forced the Sky into compromising defensive sets which allowed the rest of the Mercury team the opportunity to contribute.

"She is our go-to player now," Corey Gaines said. "We try to get her as many shots as we can. She is starting to come into her own and she knows where to get her shot from. She is playing the three so it is a little bit of a different position for her. We move her around sometimes but she is beginning to get into her groove."

Indeed, this was another consummate definition of a "team win."

"We have so many injuries that we just rallied and said, 'yeah, we're young but let's get some wins and let's get rolling and play with some spirit and let's play with some energy,'" Sammy Prahalis said after the game. "Just do the little things, get the loose balls, get the things that we can control."

Prahalis had another all-around great game with 14 points, four rebounds, and four assists. Charde Houston added 16 and Avery Warley had 10 huge points. Krystal Thomas (9 points, 11 rebounds) and Alexis Hornbuckle (8 points, 9 rebounds) were extremely close to each having a double-double.

But the story of the game was undeniably the Mercury's effort on the boards, their most impressive rebounding outing to date. Phoenix out-rebounded the Sky (the best rebounding team in the league) 42-25 including a 17-7 offensive rebounding advantage.

Still, none of this happens if the team doesn't unite around each other.

Ultimately, that is why the Mercury won.

If they don't ban together, then there is no way they'd stay poised during the last 60 seconds of the game when the Sky cut the lead to two. If they didn't believe in each other, 16 assists on 30 made shots seems extremely unlikely.

And out-rebounding the best team in the league? That takes an intense, collective effort.

"Just stay poised and focused," said DeWanna Bonner on the keys to the game. "We knew they were going to make a run. That's how the WNBA works. We make a run, they make a run, we make a run. Just stay poised and try to keep the lead. When we needed big shots, Hornbuckle hit a three, Houston hit a three and we just kept it rolling. Every time we needed to respond, we did."

Notes :

- The Mercury led at the half 49-43, thanks in large part to their 55.9% shooting from the field.

- Overall the Mercury out-shot the Sky 46.2% to 43.1%

- DeWanna Bonner scored a career high 27 points on 9-19 shooting.

- Charde Houston added 16 points including 4-5 from three point range.

- Krystal Thomas’ 11 rebounds was the most rebounds by any Sky opponent this season.

- The Mercury travels to Washington to take on the Mystics this Sunday, July 1. The game can be viewed on NBA-TV.