The Phoenix Mercury equaled the largest comeback in franchise history, erasing a 19-point deficit for an 89-87 overtime win at home Tuesday against the Chicago Sky (11-7), the team it swept in the WNBA Finals a year ago. Previously, Phoenix (10-7) won at Washington in 1999 after trailing by 19.
“It was a hard-fought game, was it our best game- no,” Mercury coach Sandy Brondello said. “The first 20 minutes, we didn’t execute or show toughness, but the second half showed the character of this team. We kept it really simple, we wanted to run and attack.”
Instrumental in the comeback was Mercury forward DeWanna Bonner, who was coming off starting her first All-Star Game, as she scored 28 of her 34 in the second half and grabbed eight rebounds. She was also 11-for-11 from the line and has executed 30 consecutive free throws.
“I just wanted to win, we came out pretty sluggish,” Bonner said. “We needed it, we dropped two games. I was kind of embarrassing – the first half- that’s not how we play.”
The Sky held a 22-19 advantage after the first, with Elena Delle Donne scoring nine. Chicago went on a 15-point run en route to the 19-point lead during a five-minute stretch of the second, Cappie Pondexter scored eight of her 13, and the Sky would lead 44-31 at halftime.
The Mercury battled back in the third, outscoring the Sky 24-14. It scored the first 10 points of the period before Jessica Breland’s basket at the 4:40 mark. Two free throws from Bonner tied it at 50-50, then she scored the Mercury’s first three of the game at 1:50 to give it the lead, 53-52. Bonner had 16 points in the third quarter.
Sky guard Courtney Vandersloot tied the game at 73-73 just under the three-minute mark, and Monique Currie buried a three from the corner to give the Mercury the lead. After missing a shot while nursing a one-point lead in the final minute, Leilani Mitchell snatched the ball from Delle Donne at half court. Chicago coach Pokey Chatman called a timeout with the ball and 10 seconds, down one, and Delle Donne nailed a clutch jumper from the key and added a free throw. Chicago led 78-76 with 4.3 ticks, Noelle Quinn inbounded to Bonner, and Pondexter fouled her on the shot, where she knocked down both free throws to set up overtime. In the extra session, Bonner buried one from 29 feet before she was answered with a Pondexter three and Delle Donne driving layup. Bonner hit another three from 26 feet for an 88-87 lead and a minute to play. Delle Donne missed a jump shot and grabbed her own rebound, but Brittney Griner rejected her beneath the rim. Mitchell iced the first of two free throws, and Delle Donne missed the game-winning three at the buzzer.
Leading the WNBA in scoring, Delle Donne finished eight above her average with 32 points, Allie Quigley scored 14, and Clarissa Dos Santos led the Sky with eight rebounds. Griner had 14 points, eight rebounds and five blocks for the Mercury, Candice Dupree scored 11, and Currie concluded with 11, as well.
“I didn’t hesitate, I had the opportunity to make the play, and I’m just glad a teammate was able to find me,” Currie said of her play down the stretch. “We wanted it really bad. Before the break, we hadn’t been playing our best, so we really wanted to focus and get back to playing the way we were, which is aggressive. At halftime, we weren’t discouraged, we just had to take it to another level. I’m very proud of our team and the perseverance we showed.”
The Mercury will be at Tulsa at 5 p.m. Thursday and after a stop in Atlanta, will return home against the Shock at 7 p.m. Aug. 4. The Sky will host the Sparks on Friday.