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WNBA: Erica Wheeler scores 18 as Sparks topple Mercury

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Erica Wheeler scored 10 of her 18 points in the fourth quarter and also recorded a season-best 10 assists to lead the Los Angeles Sparks to an 85-80 victory over the visiting Phoenix Mercury on Wednesday night.

Kristi Toliver added 17 points and Amanda Zahui B. added 15 as Los Angeles (5-5) snapped a two-game slide in the opener of a back-to-back set between the teams. Brittney Sykes added 14 points and nine rebounds for the Sparks.

Brittney Griner scored a season-high 30 points and collected 10 rebounds for the Mercury (5-7), who dropped their fourth straight game. The rematch is Friday night in Los Angeles.

Sophie Cunningham tallied 16 points and Skylar Diggins-Smith had 15 points and 10 assists for the Mercury. Brianna Turner grabbed 12 rebounds for Phoenix, which was without star Diana Taurasi (sternum) for the eighth consecutive contest.

Los Angeles played without Te’a Cooper, who was suspended one game for leaving the sideline check-in area during an on-court altercation in the Sparks’ Saturday loss against the Minnesota Lynx.

Bria Holmes added 10 points for the Sparks, who shot 45 percent from the field and connected on 9 of 28 (32.1 percent) from 3-point range.

Phoenix shot 41.3 percent from the field, including 7 of 21 (33.3 percent) from behind the arc. The Mercury are shooting 22.2 percent (20 of 90) from 3-point range during their four-game skid.

Wheeler finished her strong fourth quarter with a jumper with 8.9 seconds left to make it a two-possession contest and account for the final score.

Phoenix trailed 53-43 at halftime before scoring 18 of the first 25 points in the third quarter to take a one-point lead.

The Mercury made four 3-pointers during the surge and Griner capped it with a jumper to give Phoenix a 61-60 advantage with 3:53 remaining.

The Mercury later led 66-62 before Los Angeles rattled off the final six points of the third quarter. The Sparks received a three-point play from Wheeler to open the final stanza and move ahead 71-66.

Wheeler buried a 3-pointer to give the Sparks a 78-69 lead with 7:21 left.

However, Phoenix ripped off the next seven points to move within two. Toliver hit a floater for Los Angeles with 3:47 left, halting the run and help stymie the Phoenix comeback.

Zahui B. scored 13 first-half points and Toliver added 12 as Los Angeles held the 10-point lead at the break. Griner had 17 points in the half for Phoenix.

–Field Level Media

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