Noelle Quinn and Mistie Bass aren’t usually the first two names associated with the Phoenix Mercury, but the reserve veterans led the team in scoring and rebounding during an 83-66 home domination of the Seattle Storm Wednesday. The Mercury (15-8, second in the West) found 47 points off the bench, with Quinn scoring 13 and Bass grabbing 10, while the three Storm (6-18) rookies accounted for 37 of its points.
“I took advantage of the opportunity with BG (Brittney Griner) in foul trouble,” said Bass, who added nine points. “It was just my time to set screens and create opportunities for my teammates to set shots. They didn’t box me out today. When it comes time for the playoffs, we’re going to need everybody, and that’s our job, if BG or DB (DeWanna Bonner) get in foul trouble, there can’t be a dropoff.”
A nine-point run and 53 percent shooting led the Mercury to a 26-17 lead after the first quarter, one that ended with two threes from Cayla Francis. Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis scored 12 points in the second, but the Mercury was able to increase its lead to 52-42, the most points it has scored in the first half this season. The Mercury was still shooting 50 percent at halftime, but a 3-of-19 third quarter, matched by the Storm’s 2-of-16, led to 13 combined points in the period, with Phoenix ahead 60-47.
“We did what we needed to do, we didn’t want to overplay anyone,” Mercury coach Sandy Brondello said. “Mistie gives us a lot of energy, she gives us a lot of the intangibles that don’t usually show up in the stat sheet, although they did today.”
Mosqueda-Lewis finished with 14 points, tying Ramu Tokashiki for the Storm high, and Jewell Loyd scored nine, as the rookie trio paced Seattle.
“When you get out there and play your game, good things are going to happen,” Brondello said of the Storm rookies. “She’s (Mosqueda-Lewis) going to keep developing, and Jewell Loyd is going to get better the more she plays, she has some tools now and will keep getting better.”
Francis and Bonner each scored 11 points for the Mercury, Candice Dupree added 10 points, and Monique Currie nine. Brittney Griner was held without a field goal and four points in 19 minutes.
“It was just like we do in practice, letting the starters rest and working together,” said Mercury rookie guard Alex Harden, who scored five points in 13 minutes Wednesday. “I feel like I’m just getting better every game, being consistent, that’s what makes veterans veterans. We take it as a confidence builder for the starters that even if they’re having a bad game, they have a bench behind them, and they’re not on they’re own.”
Sue Bird sat out for rest a night after she scored 15 in Seattle’s 85-77 win at Los Angeles. The Mercury will next play Indiana at 5 p.m. Sunday from US Airways Center (ESPN2 televised), and the Storm will host Chicago at 7 p.m. Friday.
“It’s getting to that point of the season, where it’s a grind,” Bonner said. “Anyway you can get your rest, you still have to be ready to play. I enjoy getting excited on the bench and seeing my teammates perform.”