Three Wins That Defined the Mercury’s Season

By Ben York, PhoenixMercury.com
Posted: September 11, 2011

Well, that went by fast.

The 2011 WNBA regular season has officially come to an end.

With the 90-96 loss versus the Minnesota Lynx today, the Phoenix Mercury finishes 19-15 on the year and third place in the Western Conference.

In many ways, this was a meaningless game; neither team had much to gain or lose either with a win or loss. That’s why only one of the Minnesota’s starters played over 22 minutes and why no Mercury player logged 30 minutes on the night.

Still, the game wasn’t completely irrelevant. With her 19 points, Diana Taurasi captured the WNBA scoring crown for the fourth year in a row and fifth of the last six. Additionally, Marie Ferdinand-Harris surpassed the 3,000-point mark with her 15 points on the night.

Rather than recap today’s game ad nauseam, I thought it would be more compelling to look at the entire season as a whole thus far and outline a few of the most significant victories that got the team to where they are now.

We want to hear from you as well; feel free to chime in on the discussion on our Facebook page (www.facebook.com/phoenixmercury) and Twitter (www.twitter.com/phoenixmercury) with your thoughts on some of the Mercury’s biggest wins of the year.

Note: Biggest wins of the year SO FAR. After all, there’s still a lot of basketball to be played.

Right, X-Factor?

Sunday, June 19 vs. Indiana: 93-89

After losing four of their first five games, the Phoenix Mercury hosted a streaking Indiana Fever team. This was an especially important game because the Mercury was leaving on a very difficult four-game road trip the next day.

In many ways, this game defined the Mercury’s season more than any other. In fact, you could point to this victory as the definitive turning point.

The victory rallied the team as they would go on to win nine of their next ten games and get back into contention in the competitive Western Conference. Diana Taurasi scored seven of her 32 points in overtime, all on free throws, as the Phoenix Mercury beat the Indiana Fever 93-89. Candice Dupree had 21 points and 18 rebounds for the Mercury, who was the WNBA's last winless team this season. Marie Ferdinand-Harris added 17 points, including the final two free throws with 8.5 seconds left for Phoenix.

Tuesday, August 9 vs. Minnesota: 85-80

In spite of a spectacular finish in Minnesota in mid-July, this game solidified the Mercury as legitimate contenders in the West.

Prior to this game, the Mercury lost two in a row to the Lynx including a tough loss at home on July 20. Minnesota was dominating the league at this point and many WNBA experts felt this game would be a good measurement for where the Mercury was at.

The Mercury had five players who scored in double-digits and hit nine three-pointers en route to an 85-80 win. More importantly, it showed how clutch and resilient this 2011 Mercury team is. DeWanna Bonner hit the second of two free throws with 36 seconds remaining to give Phoenix a 78-77 lead. On the Lynx' subsequent possession, Rebekkah Brunson had the ball on the baseline in traffic just a few feet from the basket but Taurasi knocked the ball away and was fouled.

She hit two free throws with 19 seconds left to help Phoenix secure the victory.

Saturday, September 3 vs. Los Angeles: 93-77

Win and we’re in.

That was what the only thing on the Mercury’s mind this game.

With as tight as the playoff race was down to the wire, the Mercury certainly couldn’t afford to prolong solidifying a spot in the post-season.

Demonstrating how clutch she is, Candice Dupree had her best game of the year and led the Mercury with 22 points and 19 huge rebounds in a 16-point victory.

“She controlled the game today on both ends which is hard to do sometimes being a post player,'' Taurasi said afterwards. “She's just unbelievable. Every game she plays she plays pretty well. I'm sure it’s fun for the fans to watch. It was fun for us to watch. That was probably one of the best games of the year for her.''

What victories do you think were the biggest of the season so far? Let us know on Twitter (www.twitter.com/phoenixmercury) and Facebook (www.facebook.com/phoenixmercury).

Stay tuned to PhoenixMercury.com this week for an in-depth preview of the first round match-up against the Storm.