Taurasi Scores 30 as Mercury Reach West Finals
PHOENIX (AP) -- Diana Taurasi scored 30 points and keyed a tiebreaking run in the fourth quarter to help the Phoenix Mercury advance to the Western Conference finals with a 100-92 victory over the San Antonio Silver Stars in Game 3 of their opening round series Monday night.
Taurasi and Tangela Smith each scored five points during the Mercurys 14-4 run that gave Phoenix an 86-76 lead with 5:14 remaining. Taurasi also finished with six assists.
The top-seeded Mercury will open the West finals against the Los Angeles Sparks at UCLA's Pauley Pavilion on Wednesday night.
Becky Hammon led the Silver Stars with 29 points while Vickie Johnson - playing the final game of her WNBA career - added 24 points, including four 3-pointers, and six rebounds.
Cappie Pondexter had 17 points while Smith added 16 points and eight rebounds for the Mercury, who were a league-best 23-11 during the regular season.
San Antonio, which lost to Detroit in the WNBA finals last year, were the first Western Conference team to make the postseason with a losing record at 15-19.
Taurasi scored 14 points in the first half and led 10-2 run that gave Phoenix a 43-35 lead with 3:14 left but San Antonio scored the last seven points of the half to pull to 43-42 at the break.
Phoenix opened up a six-point lead in the third but Edwige Lawson-Wade and Vickie Johnson hit back to back 3-pointers to tie the game and it stayed close.
Taurasi, the leagues leading scorer at 20.4 a game, hit a 26-footer at the top of key to tie the score at 72 with 8:25 left after San Antonio had taken a 72-66 lead in the first minute of the final period.
Hammon, the second-leading scorer in the WNBA this season at 19.5 a game, made 10 of 18 from the field, including 6 of 11 from beyond the arc after being held to 13 points in a Game 2 loss.
The Silver Stars won the opener of the series, 92-91, at home. Phoenix tied it with a 106-78 victory on Saturday.
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