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WNBA: Storm top Mercury to enter break with WNBA’s best record

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Epiphanny Prince scored 15 points to lead a balanced scoring effort as the host Seattle Storm held off the short-handed Phoenix Mercury 82-75 on Sunday.

Katie Lou Samuelson added 14 points and Sue Bird and Breanna Stewart scored 13 each for the Storm (16-5), who took the WNBA’s best record into the All-Star and Olympic break.

Kia Nurse scored 28, Skylar Diggins-Smith had 17 and Brittney Griner 16 for the Mercury (9-10), who used just seven players and were outscored 26-2 in bench points.

Diana Taurasi missed her third consecutive game because of a hip injury and her replacement, Sophie Cunningham, was sidelined after entering the concussion protocol when hit in the face during a victory against the visiting Storm on Friday.

Phoenix coach Sandy Brondello also missed the game for personal reasons, and assistant Julie Hairgrove served as head coach.

Bird made two 3-pointers and Jewell Loyd and Stewart made one each during a 15-2 run at the outset of the third quarter that gave Seattle a 59-41 lead.

Phoenix got as close as seven before Prince’s 3-pointer gave the Storm a 66-56 lead at the end of the period.

Nurse made two 3-pointers to help the Mercury pull within 75-72 with 2:18 left.

Loyd answered with a 3-pointer and Bird added a basket that gave the Storm an 80-72 lead with 43.9 seconds left and put the game away.

Nurse scored eight points to help Phoenix grab a 23-21 lead at the end of the first quarter.

The Storm scored the first 11 points of the second quarter as Phoenix went scoreless for the first 3 1/2 minutes.

Diggins-Smith ended the drought by making a 3-pointer and the Mercury got within six points once more before Seattle built a 40-28 lead. Griner scored four points and added an assist to help Phoenix cut the deficit to 44-39 at halftime.

–Field Level Media

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