for this game

Taurasi leads Mercury past Sun

Aug 30, 2009 - 5:15 AM PHOENIX(AP) -- Phoenix can outscore anyone in the league, but it was the Mercury's defense that carried them to a win over the Sun.

Diana Taurasi had 21 points, nine rebounds and five assists to lead the Mercury to a 95-84 victory over the Sun on Saturday night.

Taurasi hit a 17-footer and found Penny Taylor for a 3-pointer during a key stretch of the final five minutes to help Phoenix pull away after the Mercury fell behind 80-79 with 6:25 remaining. Taylor added a pair of free throws with 1:45 left and the Mercury held the Sun scoreless over the final 3 minutes.

"We just had to buckle down on the defensive end," said Taurasi, of the team that scores and gives up more points than any other in the WNBA. "We just had to limit some shots in the last half of the quarter and we did that I think."

Anete Jekabsone-Zogata led the Sun (14-15) with 23 points, including three 3-pointers, and Kerri Gardin had 14 points and 13 rebounds for her third double-double of the season.

"We knew it would be tough but we could win this game," Jekabsone-Zogata said. "We were so just close, (but) last five minutes we get up and couldn't score. We just missed some shots."

Connecticut fell back into a tie for third in the Eastern Conference, with five games to play. Second to sixth place in the East are separated by just a game and a-half games.

"Nobody is going to feel sorry for us," said Sun coach Mike Thibault. "Everybody is in desperation mode in our conference right now except (first-place) Indiana. The biggest thing for us is to see if we can find a way to get another win here tomorrow (Sunday), going to L.A. (Los Angeles) and play as hard as we can and see what happens."

Cappie Pondexter added eight of her 16 points in the final quarter for Phoenix (20-9), which have won three of four.

"I know teams are geared up to play us," Phoenix coach Corey Gaines said. "They come out hard, ready to run. They gear it up and we just try and keep it steady and grind it out."

Lindsay Whalen added 20 points for the Sun. Connecticut has lost four of its last five and is 4-10 on the road with two more games left on this trip.

"They got in the lane and made some things happen," Whalen said. "We talked about helping off in the lane, (we had) a couple defensive breakdowns. I don't know, it was tough down the stretch where they made some plays."

The Sun played their sixth game without leading scorer Asjha Jones, who has a strained left Achilles.

Connecticut - the second-worst shooting team in the league - made its first three 3-pointers and ran out to a 15-4 lead in the first three minutes. The Sun scored 35 first-quarter points, the most against Phoenix in a quarter all season.

But Phoenix chipped away and finished the half on a 16-5 run to take a 52-49 lead at the break. Taurasi had 17 points. The game was tied at 71 going into the final period.