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WNBA: Storm face Mercury looking to wrap up Commissioner’s Cup berth

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The reigning WNBA champion Seattle Storm aim to sew up the Western Conference’s berth in next month’s Commissioner’s Cup final on Friday, traveling to Phoenix for the first of two weekend contests against the Mercury.

Seattle (15-4) took sole possession of the WNBA’s best record and a commanding two-game lead in the Commissioner’s Cup race thanks in part to Phoenix’s 99-90 overtime defeat of Las Vegas on Wednesday.

The Mercury (8-9) opened overtime on a 9-0 run, the first six of which came from Brittney Griner. Her 33 points both sparked Phoenix to a season scoring high and marked Griner’s most points in a game since hitting for 34 on Aug. 25, 2019, against Chicago.

“We had a good balance overall tonight,” Griner said in her postgame press conference. “It was good basketball … Just knowing we needed to respond after that Minnesota game was the biggest factor.”

The Minnesota game was a 31-point blowout last Saturday, and the Mercury’s second consecutive loss to the Lynx. Just two Phoenix players — Skylar Diggins-Smith and Diana Taurasi — scored in double-digits.

Against the Aces, Diggins-Smith added 27 points to complement Griner, and Sophie Cunningham added 13 points while Taurasi was sidelined with a hip injury.

Phoenix’s bounce-back on Wednesday dropped Las Vegas into a tie with Minnesota for second in the Western Conference Commissioner’s Cup standings at 5-3, while Seattle grinded out a 71-62 win over Los Angeles to improve to 7-1.

Wednesday’s win was the second-lowest scoring game of the season for the Storm, who rank second in the league at 87.2 points per game. The 62 points to which Seattle held the Sparks, however, marked a new season-best defensive effort.

Most Valuable Player contender Breanna Stewart scored 12 of her 27 points and all but two of the Storm’s final 14 points to seal the victory in the fourth. Stewart rebounded from a 2-of-11 shooting performance last Friday with consecutive 8-of-15 shooting nights against Los Angeles, tallying a combined 48 points.

“She’s the best player in the world,” Seattle coach Noelle Quinn said of Stewart in her postgame press conference. “She has an ability to really lock in mentally and physically get it done.”

–Field Level Media

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