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2011 Storm-Mercury Series

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Matchups with the Phoenix Mercury at KeyArena nearly bookended the 2011 Storm season, which started against Phoenix at KeyArena and saw the Mercury visit during the final weekend of the regular season. The Storm won both home games and split a pair at the US Airways Center to win the season series for the second consecutive year, 3-1.

Saturday, June 4 - at Storm 78, Phoenix 71


After collecting championship rings in a pregame ceremony, the Storm essentially controlled the Opening Day matchup with the Mercury from start to finish with solid, smart play. A late burst of scoring from Diana Taurasi, who had 11 of her 31 points in the fourth quarter, made the final score (78-71) respectable but was not enough to overcome the Storm's lead.

The Storm had 18 turnovers, many of them when two players weren't quite on the same page. Still, the team did a great job of sharing the basketball and getting good looks at the basket. Sue Bird ran the show and finished with a double-double (13 points, 10 assists). Three of the four other scorers scored double figures, including a huge 18-point, nine-rebound effort from Camille Little. The bench kept things going, with Katie Smith (eight points) and Le'coe Willingham (nine) providing strong contributions. And everybody played defense, holding Phoenix to just 40.3 percent shooting from the field.
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Camille Little's steal and layup helped the Storm beat the Mercury in Phoenix.
Christian Petersen/Getty Images

Tuesday, July 26 - Storm 83, at Phoenix 77


The Storm earned the biggest road win of 2011 and extended its dominance over the Mercury Tuesday night in the Valley of the Sun, beating Phoenix 83-77. Down as many as 11 in the first quarter, the Storm turned on the defense thereafter, holding the Mercury to 40.0 percent shooting (6-of-19 from beyond the arc). A 14-0 run late in the third quarter with 12 points scored by reserves gave the Storm the lead for good, though there were tense moments down the stretch. With Phoenix down just one, Little came up with a steal and converted it into a layup with 1:15 remaining, then followed it with another score in the final minute. Tanisha Wright sealed the victory by tracking down a jump ball in the closing seconds and making both free throws.

Bird carried the Storm offense with 18 points and seven assists. Little scored 15 points on 7-of-10 shooting, her most prolific outing in the month of July. Ashley Robinson chipped in eight points, seven rebounds and three assists. But the real story of the game was the Storm bench, which combined for a season-high 28 points. Willingham contributed eight points and eight rebounds and Smith scored nine, while Belinda Snell knocked down a pair of three-pointers and rookie Ewelina Kobryn had five points and two assists in her longest WNBA outing.
Coverage: Game at a Glance | Box Score | Recap | Quotes/Notes | Gallery

Tuesday, Aug. 16 - at Phoenix 81, Storm 79


Over the course of winning nine consecutive games against the Mercury over the last two seasons, the Storm had come through in a variety of scenarios. In another close game Tuesday at the US Airways Center, the Storm was unable to make those kind of plays to extend the streak. After leading by as many as 18 points during a dominant first half, the Storm saw Phoenix come roaring back to take the lead in the fourth quarter. Two Little buckets gave the Storm leads in the closing minutes, but the Mercury answered each time, tying the game with 30 seconds left. An awkward handoff between Bird and Smith led to a Phoenix steal and Taurasi paid it off at the other end with the go-ahead layup in transition. After a timeout, Swin Cash faked a pass and drove to the basket, but missed the possible tying shot before time ran out on the Storm.

Bird powered the Storm to an early lead, scoring 13 points in the first quarter alone. Thereafter, the Mercury defense cracked down on Bird, who finished with 23 points on 9-of-16 shooting. The Storm played without starting guard Wright, whose mother passed away last week. In her absence, Smith got the start and scored a season-high 16 points, knocking down four three-pointers. The Storm also got excellent offensive production from both Little and Willingham, who combined for 31 points on 19 shot attempts. Cash struggled offensively, missing six of her seven shot attempts, but did yeoman's work on the glass. Cash's 15 rebounds tied her career high, set July 18, 2002 at Washington.
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Friday, Sept. 9 - at Storm 85, Phoenix 70


In a preview of the teams' Western Conference Semifinal series, the Storm defeated Phoenix Friday at KeyArena to secure the No. 2 seed in the Western Conference and home court advantage for the series. To do so, the Storm had to withstand a historic second quarter from Taurasi, who knocked down five three-pointers and scored 20 points - two shy of her own WNBA record. Fortunately for the Storm, Smith was nearly as hot, keeping the Storm close on a night where the team's leading scorers struggled. The Mercury took a lead to the break, but the Storm erased it in barely two minutes with a 10-0 run during the third quarter. An 8-0 surge during the final period helped the Storm push the lead to double digits and pull away.

Smith had her best game in a Storm uniform, knocking down five of the team's season-high 13 pointers and scoring a season-best 26 points. Wright added 18 points on efficient 7-of-9 shooting. After starting slowly, Bird came on after halftime, finishing with 15 points and six rebounds. Lauren Jackson did not score until the fourth quarter, finishing with four points, but the Storm got tough interior play from the frontcourt. Little and Cash combined to pull down 25 rebounds. Taurasi would score just one field goal after halftime and finished with 36 points, the most scored against the Storm this season. Candice Dupree (12) was the only other Phoenix player to score double figures. The Mercury, playing without Penny Taylor, tied their season low by managing just 70 points as a team.
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STORM-MERCURY STATS

Player       G     MPG     FG%     3P%     FT%    RPG    APG    SPG   TOPG    BPG     PPG
-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Bird         4    35.4    .439    .389    .923    2.5    7.8    2.0    2.8    0.5    17.3
Smith        4    29.4    .541    .571    .875    3.3    1.5    1.0    2.0    0.0    14.8
Little       4    30.3    .532    .000    .833    7.3    2.0    1.5    2.8    0.8    13.8
Willingham   4    19.4    .500    .400    .636    5.5    2.0    0.0    1.0    0.3     9.8
Wright       3    23.6    .529    .500   1.000    3.0    2.0    1.7    2.3    0.0     9.7
Jackson      2    27.0    .357   1.000   1.000    5.0    1.0    0.5    1.5    1.0     9.5
Cash         4    33.3    .289    .200   1.000   10.3    2.5    0.8    2.8    0.3     7.0
Robinson     4    14.7    .429    .000    .333    2.8    0.8    0.5    0.8    0.3     3.3
Snell        3     3.9    .600    .600    .000    0.3    0.3    0.0    0.3    0.0     3.0
Kobryn       2     6.2    .333    .500    .000    0.5    1.0    0.0    0.5    0.0     2.5
Ibekwe       1     0.9    .000    .000    .000    0.0    0.0    0.0    0.0    0.0     0.0
Quigley      1     0.4    .000    .000    .000    0.0    0.0    0.0    0.0    0.0     0.0
-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Team                      .457    .449    .852   36.8   19.3    7.3   15.5    2.5    81.3

Player       G     MPG     FG%     3P%     FT%    RPG    APG    SPG   TOPG    BPG     PPG
-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Taurasi      4    32.6    .493    .577    .903    2.8    2.3    1.8    2.0    0.3    29.3
Dupree       4    31.2    .538    .000   1.000    5.5    1.5    0.8    1.8    0.3    12.5
Taylor       3    30.7    .500    .375    .786    2.0    4.0    1.3    2.7    0.7    12.0
Bonner       4    26.3    .313    .154   1.000    6.8    0.5    1.0    1.0    1.3     6.5
Braxton      2    17.8    .286    .000    .250    8.0    1.5    1.0    2.0    1.0     6.5
Ferdinand    4    14.6    .238    .200   1.000    1.8    1.0    0.5    1.3    0.3     4.3
Sanford      4    16.9    .417    .000   1.000    3.8    0.5    0.5    0.3    0.3     3.0
Gray-Lawson  3     7.0    .333   1.000   1.000    0.7    1.0    0.7    0.0    0.0     3.0
Johnson      4    23.2    .182    .000   1.000    2.5    3.8    0.8    2.8    0.3     2.5
Thomas       1    18.6    .500    .000    .000    2.0    0.0    0.0    0.0    4.0     2.0
Swanier      4    11.1    .200    .125    .000    1.0    1.0    1.0    1.0    0.0     1.3
Sanni        2     4.2    .500    .000    .000    0.5    0.0    0.5    1.0    0.0     1.0
Spencer      1     0.7    .000    .000    .000    0.0    0.0    0.0    0.0    0.0     0.0
-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Team                      .398    .329    .880   30.8   15.0    8.5   13.8    4.5    74.8