Skylar Diggins-Smith scored 22 points and Brianna Turner pulled off a decisive free throw with just 0.4 seconds left as host Phoenix Mercury beat New York Liberty 83-82 in the first round elimination game of the WNBA playoffs Thursday night.
Sophie Cunningham led fifth-seeded Mercury on a third quarter turnaround and finished with 21 points. Brittney Griner of Phoenix had 16 points and 10 rebounds, and Turner finished with 12 points, nine rebounds and five assists.
Phoenix, who was 19-13 in the regular season, will travel to face fourth seed Seattle Storm in a second round game on Sunday night. The bad news for the Mercury is that star Diana Taurasi has missed a fifth straight game with an ankle injury when she is expected to return.
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Betnijah Laney scored a high 25 points, Natasha Howard had 16 points and 10 rebounds, Sabrina Ionescu added 14 points and 11 assists and Rebecca Allen scored 11 to lead eighth seed Liberty, who had a record. 12-20 in the regular season and only earned his playoff spot on the final day.
The score was tied five times in the fourth quarter before Howard made back-to-back baskets to give New York a 75-71 lead. Cunningham scored three points but Allen responded with a jumper for a 77-74 lead with 2:42 remaining.
Diggins-Smith’s three-point shot tied the score at 77 just over a minute later, but Ionescu responded with a basket for the Liberty’s final lead with 1:29 remaining.
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Cunningham’s three-point shot and Diggins-Smith layup then gave Phoenix an 82-79 advantage with 50.6 seconds left. Laney’s three-point pointer tied the score 2.7 seconds from time before Turner was fouled as he attempted a layup and made the second of two free throws.
Ionescu’s desperate three-pointers fell well short of the buzzer.
The sky flies beyond the wings
Kahleah Copper scored 23 points and Candace Parker scored a double-double as the sixth-seeded Chicago Sky also advanced to the second round of the WNBA playoffs with an 81-64 decision over the Wings. from Dallas, seventh seed, to Chicago.
Courtney Vandersloot added 17 points, eight rebounds and six assists for Sky, scoring 11 points in the fourth quarter. Allie Quigley finished with 15 points and Parker recorded 11 points, 15 rebounds and seven assists.
Highlights from the first playoff game between the Dallas Wings and Chicago Sky in the WNBA.
Arike Ogunbowale rebounded from a two-point first quarter to collect 22 points for the wings, but it wasn’t enough to move them to the next round. Satou Sabally came off the bench to score 12, but Dallas only converted 36.2 percent of their field goals while falling behind 47-35.
The Wings reduced a 21-point first-half deficit to 55-52 in the first minute of the fourth quarter before Chicago finally put it aside. Vandersloot scored six straight points in 72 seconds, giving Sky an insurmountable 76-62 lead with 1:15 remaining.
Chicago plays the third-seeded Minnesota Lynx on Sunday night, while Phoenix faces the Seattle Storm. Both matches are live on Sky Sports Arena at 8 p.m. ET.