Pondexter scores 25 as Mercury beat Fever 106-90

INDIANAPOLIS(AP) The Phoenix Mercury quickly got over their tough loss at Detroit the previous night.

Cappie Pondexter scored 25 points and the Mercury shot nearly 60 percent from the floor in a 106 90 victory over the Indiana Fever on Wednesday night in a matchup of first-place teams.

"We were focusing on ourselves, not losing two in a row,'' Pondexter said. "It was a good test for us, knowing Indiana has the best record in the WNBA.''

Phoenix was coming off a 101-99 defeat against the surging defending champion Shock on Tuesday night.

DeWanna Bonner scored 15 points, Diana Taurasi had 14 and Temeka Johnson 13 as the Mercury (21-10) shot 41 for 70 from the field (59 percent), including 10 for 18 on 3-pointers. Western Conference-leading Phoenix won for just the fifth time in its last nine games and moved 1 1/2 games ahead of second-place Seattle.

"We did some good things early tonight,'' Taurasi said. "It is difficult to put up 100 points against a halfcourt defense like Indiana. ... We have to give credit to our big players doing a good job crashing the boards.''

Tamika Catchings had 27 points and a season-high 12 rebounds for the East-leading Fever (20-9), losers of four of their last five. Tammy Sutton-Brown scored 19 points, rookie Briann January had 14 and Ebony Hoffman 11.

"We were soft defensively early with their 3,'' Fever coach Lin Dunn said. "To stay with this team we need to hit the open shots and we didn't. We need to be more focused. Two or three of our players were not scoring, plus missing Katie Douglas hurt us. We allowed Phoenix to penetrate too much. We hurt ourselves with some of our decisions.''

Douglas, who had 28 points and 10 rebounds in a 90-83 win at Phoenix on Aug. 8, sprained her left ankle on Saturday and was held out for precautionary reasons. Her status is day to day.

"You have to play with who you have,'' Catchings said. "Everyone who comes in has to make a difference. Our defensive intensity has to be 24-7. All players who come in have to have that mentality.''

The Mercury outscored the Fever 17-9 over the first 4:12 of the second half to build a 72-55 margin. They led by as many as 22 points.

"We just missed a lot of defensive assignments tonight, and they shot the ball at a high percentage,'' Sutton-Brown said.

Bonner had six points in a 10-2 run late in the first quarter that gave the Mercury a 28-17 lead.

After shooting better than 60 percent for most of the first half, the Mercury were at 57 percent (20 for 35) at the break and led 55-46. The Fever shot 42 percent (16 of 38) in the opening 20 minutes.

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