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WNBA: Brittney Griner, Diana Taurasi lead Mercury past Storm in overtime

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Brittney Griner scored 23 points and took 16 rebounds, and Diana Taurasi scored six of her 14 points in overtime as the Phoenix Mercury outlasted the Seattle Storm 85-80 on Sunday afternoon in a single-elimination second-round playoff game in Everett, Wash.

The elimination game between two of the heavyweights of the league was a slugfest, going back and forth throughout before Taurasi, who had missed the previous five games with a left ankle injury, and Griner proved too much for Seattle in the extra period.

The fifth-seeded Mercury will play on the road against either top-seeded Connecticut or second-seeded Las Vegas in the best-of-five league semifinals beginning Tuesday.

The fourth period featured six ties, the final of which came on Bird’s 3-pointer with 1 minute to play that knotted the game at 73. Skylar Diggins-Smith, who shot better than 82 percent from the line this season, missed two free throws with 40.8 seconds to play.

Jewell Loyd missed a driving layup for Seattle with 15.4 seconds to play, giving Phoenix a chance at the final shot. But Diggins-Smith’s jumper in the lane was blocked by Mercedes Russell, sending the game into overtime.

Taurasi poured in a 3-pointer to tie the game at 76 with 3:39 left in overtime and then hit the go-ahead bucket a little more than a minute later to give Phoenix a lead it would not relinquish. Griner followed with a layup with 52.6 seconds to play.

Diggins-Smith added 20 points for the Mercury, with Brianna Turner and Kia Nurse scoring 12 each for Phoenix. The Mercury’s starters scored all but four of the team’s points in the win.

Katie Lou Samuelson led Seattle with 18 points while Sue Bird scored 16, Loyd had 15 (on 5 of 24 shooting) and Mercedes Russell racked up 10 points and 12 rebounds. The Storm, last season’s league champions, failed to make the semifinals for the second time in the past three years.

The Mercury led 32-20 after a Griner putback at the 5:34 mark of the second quarter. That’s when Seattle took over by scoring the final 15 points of the half, with Loyd scoring five points in that stretch before a Bird 3-pointer gave the Storm the lead on the way to a 35-32 advantage at intermission.

Loyd scored 10 points and grabbed a half-dozen rebounds in the first half for Seattle. Griner had 10 points and 6 rebounds at the break for Phoenix, which missed its final nine shots of the half

–Field Level Media

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