The battle of the boards could loom large Saturday night when the short-handed Phoenix Mercury attempt to beat the Dallas Wings for the second time in four days.
The Mercury (8-8) - who are again expected to be without injured starters Diana Taurasi and Sancho Lyttle - were getting bullied on the boards by the Wings in the first half Wednesday, similar to the first meeting between the teams. Dallas (5-13) recorded a 69-54 victory June 20 on the strength of a 49-28 edge on the glass and had pulled down 11 first-half offensive rebounds en route to a 34-31 halftime lead of Wednesday's game.
After a chewing out by Mercury coach Sandy Brondello, the Mercury got their act together under the basket and limited the Wings to two offensive caroms in the final two quarters while recording a 69-64 victory. All-Star center Brittney Griner totaled 23 points and seven rebounds and made the go-ahead basket in the final minute.
"Sandy definitely got on us about it," Griner told the Arizona Republic. "For us to hear that (and improve) just shows us being able to make adjustments, because that's what we're going to have to do the rest of the season."
Griner will make her sixth All-Star appearance later this month in Las Vegas, but she has become the Mercury's go-to scorer with Taurasi sidelined again by a balky back. The 6-foot-9 pivot leads the WNBA in scoring at 19.1 points per game and is also third in blocks (2.1). Fellow All-Star DeWanna Bonner is right behind her in scoring (18.8) and ranks seventh in rebounding (7.8).
"We are at the top in league scoring but like BG said, (we're) not really capitalizing on it right now," Bonner said. "It's still an honor. It's not easy to do. Credit to our coaches and teammates for getting us the ball. But going to All-Star, I'm looking forward to it. It's my third one, right up the street in Vegas, thank goodness."
The Wings followed up their Wednesday loss with a second 69-64 defeat the following day in Los Angeles. Dallas suffered its 16th consecutive road loss in frustrating fashion, squandering a 16-point first-half lead while getting held to nine points in the third quarter.
Rookie Arike Ogunbowale had a two-game trip to forget as she finished with seven points on 3-of-13 shooting. She went 9 for 35 in the two games and had a run of 10 straight games scoring in double figures snapped. Isabelle Harrison did have 14 points and nine rebounds and has averaged 12.0 and 5.3, respectively, in three games since clearing the league's concussion protocol.
Dallas, which has the worst record in the league, has dropped four straight and six of seven.