Pondexter's two free throws helps Mercury edge Silver StarsAug 31, 2007 - 4:10 AM SAN ANTONIO (Ticker) -- The Phoenix Mercury made sure they drew first blood.
Cappie Pondexter scored 26 points, including the go-ahead free throws late in the fourth quarter, as the Mercury held on for a 102-100 win over the San Antonio Silver Stars in Thursday's opener of the Western Conference final.
Diana Taurasi scored 20 points and Penny Taylor had 18 and 14 rebounds for the Mercury, who remained the lone undefeated club in the postseason. They swept their best-of-three semifinal series against the Seattle Storm.
"Penny was terrific on the boards," Phoenix coach Paul Westhead said. "Rebounding was crucial for us because if they get up backs, it give them points and stops out runs."
In the fourth quarter, Taylor made a pair of free throws, then found Pondexter slicing down the lane for an easy layup as the Mercury pushed their lead to 91-84.
However, San Antonio rallied behind two huge mistakes by Taurasi in the waning seconds.
Shanna Crossley hit three free throws after Taurasi fouled her in the left corner with 15 seconds remaining, cutting the deficit to 100-97. Following a timeout, Taurasi mishandled the ball on the sideline, turning over the ball four seconds later.
"Every game you learn something," Taurasi said. "Our defense slipped a little bit, but that's why you play 40 minutes. It's not decided in the last 10 seconds, even though that's what everyone remembers."
That created just enough time for All-Star Becky Hammon, who drained a deep 3-pointer from the top of the key to tie the game at 100-100.
"It was a pretty simple play that coach (Dan Hughes) drew up actually," said Hammon, who set a playoff record with seven 3-pointers. "I just saw a little gap and let it fly."
"Becky is Becky," Taurasi said. "She could shoot the ball from Houston. She's hard to guard. She worked to get her points."
But on the ensuing possession, Crossley was called for a foul with just two seconds left on Pondexter, who sank both free throws. Crossley had a chance to redeem herself, but misfired on the potential game-winning shot from midcourt rimmed out as the horn sounded.
"I was just trying to slow (Pondexter) down, and that led to an unfortunate series of events that decided the game," Crossley said. "But now we've got two more to play. We have two more chances."
"I'm not surprised (by what happened)," Pondexter said. "It didn't matter to me; whatever it took to win. I'm glad we got the call. I was just thinking positive the whole time."
Hammon finished with 32 points and Sophia Young grabbed 18 boards for the Silver Stars, who shot 44 percent (35-of-79) and made 13 3-pointers.
Relying heavily on the 3-pointer this season, the Mercury continued that trend, connecting on 10-of-18 shots from beyond the arc.
The opening half was filled with 3-point shots, including one by Vickie Johnson, who pulled San Antonio within 50-47 at the end of the first half. The teams combined for 12 3-pointers before the break.
San Antonio travels to Phoenix for Game Two on Saturday.
"We've been a pretty good road team all season," Hammon said. "In fact, the one time that we did beat them was at their place. We're going in with one mindset, and that is to force a Game Three."
SAN ANTONIO 100 FINAL
Aug 30 10:10 PM
SAN ANTONIO 100 END OF 4TH QTR GOING INTO OVERTIME
Aug 30 10:07 PM
WNBA END 3RD QTR 1ST 2ND 3RD 4TH TOTAL
--- --- --- --- -----
PHOENIX 20 30 23 73
SAN ANTONIO 20 27 22 69 END 3RD QTR
WNBA PHOENIX AT SAN ANTONIO
HIGH SCORERS AFTER 3RD QUARTER
PHO - PENNY TAYLOR 16, DIANA TAURASI 15,
TANGELA SMITH 10
SAN - BECKY HAMMON 20, SOPHIA YOUNG 15, RUTH
Aug 30 9:30 PM
SAN ANTONIO 47 HALFTIME
Aug 30 8:49 PM
SAN ANTONIO 20 END, 1ST QTR
Aug 30 8:20 PM
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