SAN ANTONIO(AP) Sophia Young scored 24 points to lead the San Antonio Silver Stars to a 92-91 victory over the Phoenix Mercury on Thursday night in the opening game of the WNBA's Western Conference first-round series.
The previous two Western Conference champions will play Game 2 in Phoenix on Saturday night.
Edwige Lawson-Wade added 16 points for the Silver Stars, while Becky Hammon had 13, including the clinching free throws with 2 seconds left, and Shanna Crossley 11.
"It was just a good team win,'' Silver Stars coach Dan Hughes said. "It was a tough game and luckily we were able to control enough of it in the last two minutes, enough to come away with a victory.''
Down by 12 points in the third quarter, Phoenix cut the lead to 87-86 on a 12-foot jumper by Cappie Pondexter with 1:12 left, but that's as close as the Mercury would get.
Penny Taylor led the Mercury, who had the best record in the league (23-11), with 18 points and Diana Taurasi, DeWanna Bonnor and Pondexter all added 15.
"We played a good team who hit big shots, while we missed a lot of ours,'' Mercury coach Corey Gaines said. "We fought hard all year for home court, and we have two games at home starting on Saturday, and that's what we have fought for.''
The Silver Stars entered the playoffs with the worst record (15-19) of any playoff team. It was the first time a team made the Western Conference playoffs with a losing record.
San Antonio was in control for most of the game and built a 65-53 lead, its largest of the game, on Lawson-Wade's layup with 3:50 left in the third quarter.
When Pondexter made it 87-86, Lawson-Wade hit her fourth 3-pointer with 50 seconds left.
"Sophia made a few shots in a row that were really big, and they didn't guard me,'' Lawson-Wade said of her three-point play. "It was a team effort tonight and we all helped in big ways.''
After Hammon's late free throws, Taylor hit a 3-pointer with no time left for the final score.
"We have to be able to learn from this loss and take it back to Phoenix,'' Taylor said. "Offensively we struggled and we have to make sure to get set in our defense next game. We are down in the series, but not out of it.''