Silver Stars 97, Mercury 87

Silver Stars Hold Off Mercury

PHOENIX, July 15 (AP) -- Sophia Young scored 10 of her 26 points in the third quarter, leading the San Antonio Silver Stars to a 97-87 victory over the Phoenix Mercury on Tuesday night.

Becky Hammon scored 19 points and Ann Wauters and Erin Buescher each added 15 for San Antonio (16-7), which leads the West by a game over Seattle.

The Western Conference-leading Silver Stars (16-7) scored the first seven points of the second half and went on a 14-4 run during the third quarter to open up a 75-61 lead.

"We defended better in the third quarter than in the first half,'' Wauters said. "In the first half they scored, then we scored and we were really just trading baskets. But in the third quarter we were a little bit more focused. We defended better and we got ourselves some easy baskets.''

Vickie Johnson had 10 points and eight of San Antonio's 25 assists.

"You have five players in double figures,'' Silver Stars coach Dan Hughes said, "so we had good balance between our interior play and our perimeter play. We got good play off the bench too and I thought (that) was key. Defensively, we could rely on them a little bit to keep pressure on them.''

Cappie Pondexter and Diana Taurasi each had 23 points for the Mercury (9-12), who have lost three straight and five of six. The duo - the top two scorers in the league - were a combined 10-of-29 from the field going into the final quarter.

"We've just got to put 40 minutes together,'' Taurasi said. "That's about it. There's got to be some consistency throughout the whole game that maintains that level of play and keeps you in the game. We couldn't hold that in the third.''

Taurasi hit a pair of 3-pointers in the final two minutes to cut the Silver Stars' lead to 91-85 with 1:06 left but Phoenix could not get closer.

San Antonio has won eight of nine, the only loss coming Monday night at Los Angeles.

The defending WNBA champion Mercury fell into a tie for last in the conference with Houston.

"We have to challenge each other right now,'' Taurasi said. "This is make or break these next couple of games, especially before the (Olympic) break.''

The Silver Stars held Phoenix to 5-of-24 shooting in the third quarter after having trailed by as much as 10 in the first half. San Antonio outrebounded the Mercury 27-16 in the second half.

Young was 7-for-8 from the field during a stretch of the second half to help San Antonio pull away.

"We had 25 assists tonight which is really sharing the ball,'' Hammon said. "Twenty-five assists on 33 field goals says that we were moving the ball well. I thought we took care of the ball well tonight. When we get everybody going, it's very difficult for our opponents to guard us.''

The Mercury scored a season-low 13 points in the third quarter and shot 36 percent from the field (16-for-44) in the second half.