Pondexter's 26 points help Mercury hold off ShockSep 14, 2007 - 4:53 AM PHOENIX (Ticker) -- The WNBA season will come down to one game.
Cappie Pondexter scored 26 points, including a drive to the basket with 21.7 seconds left that gave the Phoenix Mercury a 77-76 victory over the Detroit Shock on Thursday to force a deciding fifth game of the WNBA Finals.
All-Star Diana Taurasi scored 20 points and Kelly Miller added 13, four rebounds and four assists for the Mercury, who had a 14-0 fastbreak advantage.
Game Five is Sunday in Detroit.
"I'm so happy to play this fifth game anywhere," Mercury coach Paul Westhead said. "I would play in Istanbul or Paris or Moscow, as well as Detroit, Michigan. We're going to be happy to play and are expecting to win a championship."
With 42 seconds remaining, Pondexter hit a 13-foot jumper to give Phoenix a 75-74 lead.
"(It's) something I love doing," said Pondexter of having the ball at crunch time. "Especially with less than minute to go, I just love having the ball and making things happen."
After Deanna Nolan and Pondexter traded baskets, Detroit called a timeout with 18.6 seconds remaining.
The Shock had a chance to win the game, but Shannon Johnson's harassed 14-footer missed everything as the buzzer sounded, evening the series at two games apiece.
"I think that it was apropos for our team that we had to do it on the defensive end to get a win," Westhead said. "We just had to get a defensive stop to win it.
Both clubs have split at each other's home.
"At the end, the gods were with us, their shot didn't go in," Taurasi said. "Sometimes they go in, sometime they don't."
Detroit was led by reserve Plenette Pierson, who scored 23 points on 9-of-10 shooting from the field in 26 minutes. The reigning Sixth Player of the Year is averaging 16.8 points in the finals.
"Plenette played outstanding offensive-wise," Shock coach Bill Laimbeer said. "She turned the ball over a little too much, but she was very aggressive and made her shots."
Pierson had given Detroit a 74-70 lead with 2:16 left with a 15-foot jumper, but Miller answered with a 3-pointer 20 seconds later.
Nolan scored 17 points and Katie Smith added 14 for the Shock, who are trying to become the third team in league history to win back-to-back titles.
"We needed to execute in the fourth quarter when the game was on the line and we didn't," Laimbeer said. "We had six turnovers when they played zone. That can't happen. You have to be more focused than that. If we had been taken care of the ball, we would be celebrating right now but we didn't so we move on and play another game."
The Shock rallied from a 2-1 deficit to beat Sacramento in last year's finals.
Penny Taylor, the Mercury's second-leading scorer, was held to six points on 1-of-11 shooting. Phoenix, an up-tempo team that is averaging 94 points a game in the playoffs, shot just 38 percent (27-of-71).
Pondexter scored 12 points in the third quarter to help Phoenix hang in through the period, but Nolan's 12-footer at the buzzer gave Detroit a 60-57 lead going into the final quarter.
Similar to Tuesday's 88-83 Game 3 loss, the Mercury came out cold. Phoenix missed seven of its first eight shots but went on a 9-2 run at the end of the first quarter to take a 17-12 advantage after 10 minutes.
Taurasi's 3-pointer with 7:22 left in the half gave the Mercury a 25-16 lead.
But Detroit ran off nine straight points late in the second quarter and grabbed a 35-30 lead with 1:56 left before halftime.
The Shock led, 35-33, at the break as Pierson scored 12 first-half points in 12 minutes for Detroit.
PHOENIX 77 FINAL
Sep 13 10:47 PM
PHOENIX 47 END, 3RD QTR
Sep 13 10:19 PM
PHOENIX 33 HALFTIME
Sep 13 9:38 PM
PHOENIX 17 END, 1ST QTR
Sep 13 9:07 PM
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