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20070901/SANPHO
Silver Stars-Mercury Preview
By MATT BECKER, STATS Writer

The Phoenix Mercury have turned up their high-scoring offense in the postseason, and now they're just one victory away from returning to the WNBA finals for the first time in nine years.

The Mercury look for their second straight playoff sweep when they host the San Antonio Silver Stars in Game 2 of the Western Conference finals on Saturday.

Phoenix defeated the Silver Stars 102-100 in Game 1 on Thursday after Cappie Pondexter was fouled by Shanna Crossley on an inbound play and made two free throws with 2.1 seconds left.

San Antonio, though, didn't agree with the call.

"She didn't foul her," said Becky Hammon, who tied the score with a 3-pointer right before the inbound play. "Everybody in the world saw it. ... There's nothing we can do about that other than just shake our heads and let it go. That was a travesty tonight."

The Mercury, who swept Seattle in the opening round, have to win one of two games at home - Saturday in Game 2 or Sunday in Game 3, if necessary - to move on to the finals for the first time since losing to Houston in 1998.

"This is definitely not over," Phoenix coach Paul Westhead said.

The Mercury tied Sacramento and the Storm for the West's best home record at 12-5, but one of those losses at US Airways Center came to San Antonio. The Silver Stars, meanwhile, matched Phoenix for the conference's best road record at 11-6.

"As bad as we feel right now, we've got to take that overtime we didn't get and go play in Phoenix," San Antonio coach Dan Hughes said.

The Mercury set a league record by averaging 89.0 points during the regular season, and they are putting up 99.3 in their three playoff games.

"Everyone stepped up, we had five players in double figures, so everyone contributed amazingly well," said Phoenix forward Penny Taylor, who had 18 points and a season-high 14 rebounds on Thursday. "We'll have to focus a little bit better for Game 2."

Pondexter had a team-high 26 points in Game 1, and is averaging 24.0 in the playoffs after scoring 17.3 during the regular season.

Diana Taurasi scored 20, including 4-for-7 shooting on 3s, Thursday and is averaging 22.4 points in five games against San Antonio this season.

The Silver Stars, who are in the postseason for the first time since 2002 when the franchise was located in Utah, also lost the first game of their semifinals series against Sacramento before rallying to win two straight at home.

"We got two more to play," Crossley said. "Our backs are against the wall again."

Hammon led the second-seeded Silver Stars with 32 points, including 12 in the fourth quarter, and hit seven 3s. Hammon is averaging 22.5 points in the playoffs after posting 18.8 during the regular season.

Sophia Young added 24 points and a season-high 18 rebounds in Game 1, and is averaging 20.6 points and 11.2 boards in five games against the Mercury this season.

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