Mercury win third straight, keep Mystics winless

Kahleah Copper and Diana Taurasi scored 20 points apiece and the host Phoenix Mercury held off a late charge to beat the Washington Mystics 83-80 on Thursday night.

Sophie Cunningham had 13 points as the Mercury (3-1) cemented their first three-game winning streak since June 2022. They scored 15 straight points during the third quarter to establish a nice margin but watched the Mystics (0-5) erase nearly all of it before time ran out.

Natasha Cloud, facing her former team for the first time, had a double-double of 14 points and 10 assists for Phoenix. She also recorded five rebounds, three steals and eight turnovers.

Ariel Atkins led the Mystics with 16 points, while Julie Vanloo had 15 points on 5-for-10 shooting from 3-point range. Shatori Walker-Kimbrough and Shakira Austin each scored 11.

The Mercury trailed 46-45 when their 15-0 run began. Taurasi made an old-fashioned three-point play followed by a 3-pointer to get it started. Phoenix took the game’s first double-digit lead at 57-46 when Cloud hit two free throws with 4:50 left in the quarter, and Cunningham capped the run with a triple nearly two minutes later.

Walker-Kimbrough ended Washington’s nearly six-minute scoring drought with a triple and went on a personal 8-0 run for the Mystics. But Copper stole the spotlight with a buzzer-beater from 21 feet out to give Phoenix a 70-56 lead after three periods.

The Mercury struggled to start the fourth quarter, allowing the Mystics to creep back within single digits at 72-63 when Karlie Samuelson made a 3 with 7:20 to go. Taurasi got a pair of crucial layups to fall with less than three minutes left as the Mercury tried to seal the game.

Atkins’ three-point play brought Washington within 78-74, and Vanloo made a second-chance 3-pointer to make it 80-77 with 34 seconds to go before Phoenix iced it at the free-throw line.

Copper hit two 3-pointers and scored 13 of Phoenix’s 22 points in the first quarter. The teams traded leads until Mikiah Herbert Harrigan knocked down a long triple with 6.6 seconds left for a 22-20 Mercury advantage.

There were six lead changes and five ties during the second quarter alone. Atkins hit a floater for the final points of the half to cut Washington’s deficit to 43-40 at halftime.

Copper, who entered the game with a league-high 31.3 points per game, briefly came out with a lower-body injury in the third but returned.

–Field Level Media