Pondexter, Mercury Edge Monarchs

Phoenix 76, Sacramento 75

PHOENIX, May 29 (AP) -- Having watched from the locker room as her team came back from a 17-point deficit, Phoenix Mercury all-star Diana Taurasi could afford to poke fun at herself after being ejected for what she said was the first time in her career.

"You need something to ignite the team, so getting thrown out was the perfect medicine,'' Taurasi said tongue in cheek. "So I'll be looking to do that a lot more. Not!''

Cappie Pondexter scored 23 points, 21 after Taurasi's second-quarter ejection, and the Mercury rallied without their leading scorer in beating the Sacramento Monarchs 76-75 Tuesday night.

Taurasi, the WNBA's top scorer a year ago, was ejected with 4:55 left in the first half after picking up a flagrant foul and two technical fouls within 67 seconds.

"It was just, I don't know what it was,'' she said when asked about the sequence leading to her removal. "I don't even want to talk about it. It was stupid. Stupid is the only word I could (use).''

Taurasi said she watched the in-house television feed from the trainer's room in the U.S. Airways Center while eating powdered doughnuts.

"My first initial reaction was to keep going and then I was, 'It's not worth it, might as well get off the court,' " she said. "It was over and done with, and obviously I'm not going to do that again because watching the game from the locker room is not the ideal. It's not where I want to be.''

Pondexter picked up the slack and came to Taurasi's defense after the game.

"I was upset, I definitely didn't agree with the call. The foul on Kara Lawson, it ignited the whole situation,'' she said. "I know at that moment we had to rally together. Diana is definitely a big part of our team. We needed her.''

Pondexter hit a bank shot with 3:02 left to break a 71-71 tie and Kelly Miller added three free throws 30 seconds later to give the Mercury a five-point lead. But Rebekkah Brunson and DeMya Walker scored layups to cut the lead to 75-74 with 44.6 seconds remaining.

Walker then drew a charge from Pondexter with 24.4 seconds left, but Brunson missed two shots in the final seconds.

The Mercury ran off 10- and nine-point spurts in the third quarter to erase the first-half deficit. Phoenix trailed 41-24 after Lawson made two of three free throws following the Taurasi fouls. Phoenix cut the lead to 48-38 at the break.

Brunson led Sacramento with 16 points and 10 rebounds. Nicole Powell scored 13 points, grabbed nine rebounds and had four assists for the Monarchs, who were outscored 52-34 after Taurasi's exit.

Pondexter added five rebounds and five assists in 37 minutes for Phoenix, which had missed 18 of its first 24 shots right before Taurasi was tossed.

Taurasi, who came into the game averaging a league-leading 23.7 points a game, left with four points on a free throw and a 3-pointer after missing her first six shots. She had one rebound and one assist in 14 minutes.

She was whistled for a technical foul after missing her sixth shot and complaining that she drew a foul. Then, with 4:55 left she was called for a flagrant foul on Lawson, and subsequently a second technical foul, leading to the ejection.

Taurasi, the No. 1 overall draft choice in 2004 who was rookie of the year that season and has been all-WNBA the last two seasons, averaged a league-record 25.3 points a game and scored an WNBA-record 47 points in a game last season.