Mercury Win Game 5 to Become WNBA Champions
INDIANAPOLIS (AP) -- The Phoenix Mercury are WNBA champions for the second time in three seasons, leaning on their big three to pull out a 94-86 victory over the Indiana Fever in the deciding Game 5 Friday night.
League and Finals MVP Diana Taurasi scored 26 points, Cappie Pondexter had 24 and Penny Taylor sank two crucial free throws with 37.7 seconds left as the Mercury held off a late rally to win the series 3-2.
Tammy Sutton-Brown scored 22 points, and Jessica Davenport had a career-high 18 for Indiana in its first Finals appearance. Tamika Catchings added 16 points and nine rebounds for the Fever.
Indiana rallied from 10 down in the second half to tie it at 80 on Sutton-Brown's layup with 4:29 to play, then Tangela Smith made two 3-pointers, her only field goals of the night, to put the Mercury ahead for good.
Her second, after Jessica Davenport scored for Indiana, put Phoenix ahead 86-82 with 3:34 to go.
Pondexter's 9-footer made it 88-82 with 2:22 left, but the Fever -- who had led the series 2-1 -- weren't finished. Davenport's inside basket cut it to 88-84, then Catchings' rebound basket made it 88-86 with 2:07 to play.
On the Mercury's next possession, Taylor drove to the basket and was fouled by Davenport. Her two free throws made it 90-86. Two free throws apiece DeWanna Bonner and Taurasi provided the final margin.
Taylor added 14 points and Bonner 13 for Phoenix. Katie Douglas had her second straight rough shooting night. The Indiana star was 4 of 14 for 13 points after going 2 of 14 in Game 4. The Mercury made 10 of 17 3s.
Phoenix won it with the super-speed style that then-coach Paul Westhead used in 2007 and Corey Gaines adopted when he took over.
After a cold-shooting first quarter, the Mercury turned it on with one of their best 10 minutes of the season, shooting a Finals record 76.5 percent (13 of 17) -- and they even missed their last two shots -- in a second-quarter blitz.
Phoenix also set a Finals second-quarter record for points, outscoring Indiana 35-19 to take a 51-42 lead at the break.
Taurasi, after struggling with her shot against Catchings' defense in the first four games, was 5 for 5 in a 13-point second quarter, three of them 3-pointers. Her NBA-length 3 from the top of the key with 6:19 left in the half gave her 10 points in the quarter and put Phoenix up 33-31.
The Mercury made 13 of their first 15 shots second-quarter shots.
Bonner scored five in a 7-0 spurt that gave Phoenix its biggest lead of the night 51-40 on her two free throws with 1:10 to go.
The Mercury led by as many as 10 in the third quarter, but rookie Briann January -- from nearby Arizona State -- sank a 3-pointer with 36.7 seconds left to cut Phoenix's lead to 70-65 entering the fourth.
January's 3-pointer, followed by Sutton-Brown's inside basket that made it 80-80 with 4:29 to go.
The Fever shot out to a 14-5 lead and were up 23-16 after one quarter. Phoenix shot 36 percent (4 of 15) in the opening period. Sutton-Brown had 14 points in the quarter, including 6 of 8 free throws, but was limited to two points in the second quarter.
The previous record for shooting percentage in a quarter in the Finals was 73.3 percent by Phoenix at Detroit in 2007.
It was the fourth time the WNBA Finals went to a deciding fifth game since the league went to the best-of-five format in 2005.
Phoenix Suns captains Amare Stoudemire, Steve Nash and Grant Hill purchased the tickets in the upper bowl of US Airways Center, then gave them away, leading to a sellout crowd of 17,313.
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