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WNBA: Mercury hang on to defeat league-leading Storm

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Behind a 29-point, 15-rebound double-double from Brittney Griner and 26 points from Skylar Diggins-Smith, the host Phoenix Mercury held off the Seattle Storm, 85-77, in Friday’s Commissioner’s Cup matchup.

The Mercury (9-9) never led by more than nine points in the fourth quarter, but kept the reigning WNBA champion and Western Conference Commissioner’s Cup leader at bay for the entirety of the period thanks to timely baskets.

Phoenix answered every Seattle push, including with a 6-0 run midway through the quarter after the Storm pulled to within 70-68. Diggins-Smith kicked off the key burst with two of her 12 points scored over the final 10 minutes, while Shey Peddy and Megan Walker exchanged assists for buckets on consecutive possessions.

Seattle (15-5) — coming into Friday’s contest alone atop the WNBA thanks to Phoenix’s overtime win Wednesday at Las Vegas, and in position to lock up the West’s berth in the inaugural Commissioner’s Cup final next month following the Tokyo Olympics — pulled to within three points in the final minute.

Diggins-Smith again provided the answer, sinking four consecutive free throws in the last 28 seconds. She and Griner, who was coming off a season-high 33 points the Mercury’s last time out, were Phoenix’s only double-figure scorers.

Five Storm scored in double-figures, led by Jewell Loyd’s 16 points, but Phoenix held Breanna Stewart more than five points below her 20.1-per game with 15 points on 5-of-13 shooting from the floor.

Stewart finished with a double-double, grabbing 13 rebounds. Katie Lou Samuelson scored 14 points for Seattle on 5-of-12 field-goal shooting, Mercedes Russell added 12 and Sue Bird had 10 points on 4-of-10 shooting. The Storm finished just 29-of-76 from the floor to Phoenix’s 33-of-70.

Seattle played without Ezi Magbegor and Stephanie Talbot, and the Mercury were without Alanna Smith, all of whom joined the Australian national team ahead of the Olympics. The three will also miss Sunday’s rematch and Commissioner’s Cup regular-season finale in Everett, Wash.

–Field Level Media

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