Mercury Snap Losing Streak
Posted: July 3, 2010
Trying to fight their out of a six-game losing streak, the Mercury knew that Saturday night’s contest against the Liberty wasn’t exactly the best time to be patriotic. In a game that would ultimately see the ejection of former Mercury star Cappie Pondexter and 24 points from Mercury’s newest star, Candice Dupree, the team finally managed to play the kind of basketball fans in Phoenix are more accustomed to seeing in July.
“We weren’t getting blown out in those other games so I think tonight it was just a matter of finishing with a win,” Mercury Head Coach Corey Gaines said. “We crashed the boards and rebounding is a key for us because if we don’t get the stop or get the rebound, we can’t get out on the break.”
The Mercury were led by Dupree, who along with her 24 points also contributed nine rebounds. Following the 97-82 victory, Dupree – who was part of a three-team trade involving Pondexter during the offseason - insisted that this contest wasn’t any more important to her than any other this season.
“There’s been an extra emphasis on every game,” the forward said. “No team wants to lose that many games in a row and I was just glad to see us get over the hump tonight and pull one out.”
Gaines admitted to the media following the contest that Dupree wasn’t fully healthy at the start of the season, and just now is she finally able to start playing her best basketball as a member of the Mercury.
“In the beginning of the season she wasn’t used to the pace and during the first eight games of the season was playing with a pulled quad and couldn’t run. We didn’t tell you guys about it but now she’s healthy.”
If the win against the Liberty was any indication, a fully healthy Dupree could mean a lot of headaches for Mercury opponents from this point forward. But regardless of whether it was the extra emotion or Dupree’s performance that was the key in finally helping the Mercury snap their slide, guard Diana Taurasi said there isn’t any reason for the wins to stop coming their way.
“It’s always good to win and we needed it,” the All-Star said. “Sometimes it’s just about doing a little bit more to get the ‘w’. Our confidence was never low and we kept feeling as if we were right there. Now we just need to continue coming with the same effort we came with tonight and we’ll be okay.”
THINGS GET SCRAPPY WITH CAPPIE
Early in the third quarter of Saturday’s contest, former Mercury All-Star Cappie Pondexter was ejected after picking up a flagrant 2 foul on former teammate Penny Taylor. Words were exchanged following the foul and prior to the decision that led to Pondexter's ejection.
“Sometimes it’s just part of the game,” Taurasi said. “You get over it and you move on.”
Just prior to the game, Pondexter received her 2009 championship ring to a loud ovation from the fans in Phoenix. Only time will tell whether or not they greet the guard with the same kind of response when she makes her next return… a lot of time. Barring a meeting in the 2010 WNBA Finals, Pondexter and the Liberty won’t venture back to Phoenix until the 2011 season.
While Pondexter declined to speak with the media following the contest, she did send out the following tweet: "I'm sayin this to all my fans I would never do anything on the court to hurt anyone! Imma competitor 1st" from her Twitter account shortly after the game concluded.
MERCURY HOPE TO HEAT UP IN JULY
Now 1-1 this month, Mercury fans hope the team can continue the trend it has enjoyed during championship seasons in terms of heating up in July.
In 2009, the Mercury went 8-2 in the month of July en route to their second championship in three seasons. When the team captured its first-ever WNBA title back in 2007, the Mercury benefited from an 8-3 month of July.