PHOENIX — No win in the WNBA Finals series would come easier than Game 1 for the Sky.
At least, that was the message the Phoenix Mercury had for them ahead of Game 2 and it came from forward Sophie Cunningham. She was right. A dominant fourth-quarter performance by Diana Taurasi and Brittney Griner led to seven lead changes in the fourth.
With 10 seconds left in the fourth quarter, Courtney Vandersloot hit a layup tying the game up at 79 apiece. The Mercury turned the ball over on the inbounds play following a timeout and Game 2 went to overtime.
The Mercury sealed their Game 2 win in overtime beating the Sky 91-86.
Coming into Wednesday night’s game, Sandy Brondello’s team was rested and ready and needed to punch back. They did up.
Taurasi was fouled shooting a three early in overtime. She completed the four-point play and gave the Mercury a four-point lead over the Sky. Skylar Diggins-Smith made a layup the next play down the floor and extended her team’s lead to six.
The Sky absorbed those punches and responded but it wasn’t enough for playoff Taurasi or Griner who finished with 29 points and nine rebounds. Taurasi meanwhile had 20 points, eight of which came in overtime and four rebounds.
A Mercury win Wednesday night required a fast start and an impactful performance from their big three: Griner, Taurasi and Diggins-Smith. That’s exactly what Brondello got. Diggins-Smith had a double-double with 13 points and 12 assists.
But the Mercury’s dominance didn’t come until late.
They took their first lead of the game with less than two minutes left in the first half. Kahleah Copper hit an uncontested jumper in the lane that tied the game up at 42 heading into the half. Copper finished with 15 points and nine rebounds, Candace Parker add 13 points and Allie Quigley had 19.
Courtney Vandersloot meanwhile recorded her third double-double of these playoffs with 20 points and 14 assists.
After their preseason game against the Phoenix Suns members of the Portland Trail Blazers stuck around to watch Game 2. Members of the Suns, including Chris Paul and Devin Booker were also in attendance for the game.
Damian Lillard took in both teams’ pregame warm-ups sitting courtside and spoke highly of both teams. One player’s career, in particular, has stood out to him: Vandersloot’s.
“She’s willing to do whatever it takes to win a game, no matter what it looks like,” Lillard said.
Vandersloot poured everything she had into the fourth quarter and overtime, but it wasn’t enough. The Sky had four players finish scoring in double figures.
WNBA Commissioner Cathy Engelbert announced ahead of Sunday’s game that the Mercury and Sky would take chartered flights back to Chicago for Game 3. Those flights are scheduled for Thursday morning. Wade said he wanted his team to get a full night of sleep instead of flying out immediately following Wednesday’s game.
Friday’s Game 3 at Wintrust Arena, which has a max capacity of 10,000, is already sold out.