Dupree leads Mercury to 94-87 win

AL BRAVO (Associated Press)
The Associated Press

PHOENIX (AP) -- With New York throwing the ball all over the court, Phoenix found its range to get its fifth straight win.

Candice Dupree scored 20 points, including six straight in a key third-quarter sequence, and grabbed seven rebounds to lead the Mercury past the Liberty 94-87 on Tuesday night.

Despite tying her season high in points, Dupree mentioned defense, always the key part for a fast-breaking team like Phoenix.

''The main thing we had talked about was being able to get stops defensively, and getting out and running,'' Dupree said. ''We knew they weren't doing a good job of getting back on defense.''

For a team used to playing up-tempo but trying to integrate 6-foot-8 Brittney Griner into the offense, it has been a struggle to find a balance between running and playing half-court.

''I think as a team we are doing a better job of knowing where people are on the floor,'' Dupree said. ''Knowing who's open and who's not, just flowing really well right now.''

DaWanna Bonner hit 5 of 8 from beyond the 3-point arc and had 20 points for the Mercury, who have won eight of nine since losing their first three games of the season. Dupree added four steals and went 8 of 15 from the field for Phoenix.

''DB (Bonner) came around, getting the feel,'' Mercury coach Corey Gaines said.

Cappie Pondexter led the Liberty with 17 points and six rebounds. New York has lost three of the last four.

Diana Taurasi, just chosen WNBA Western Conference player of the month, added 16 points and 10 assists on an off-shooting night (5 of 14). Top overall draft pick Brittney Griner had 18 points and five rebounds.

''We need to limit our turnovers,'' said Kara Braxton, who had 14 points and five rebounds for New York. ''That's one thing that always has bothered us from the beginning of the season, and just focus on the things that we need to do.''

Katie Smith had 13 points and Leilani Mitchell 11 points for New York, which turned over the ball 14 times, leading to 21 Mercury points.

''I think our turnovers got us in a hole,'' said Liberty coach Bill Laimbeer. ''We make turnovers in combinations and their team got running on us. I'd rather see us throw the ball in the stands than throw the ball right to them. They get easy baskets.''

The Liberty had nine first-half turnovers and trailed 46-41 at the break. Bonner hit four 3-pointers in the second quarter to pace the Mercury.

Dupree hit two jumpers and a put-back during a 55-second stretch of the third quarter to cap a 16-4 run that put the Mercury in control. Phoenix opened up a 77-62 lead going into the final period after Penny Taylor's 3-pointer late. The Liberty did close within six in the final minute.

''Once we figure out how to play three quarters of really great basketball I think we'll be really great,'' said Pondexter. ''Once we figure out four quarters I think we'll really be super great. So it's a matter of us just putting it all together.''

The Liberty rebounded from a slow start to score seven straight points and were tied at 20 after one period. But Bonner hit two long shots early to give the Mercury the lead for good.

''DeWanna Bonner kind of set the stage early by knocking in some outside shots, and you know when we do that, you're not able to focus on Brittney as much,'' Taurasi said. ''We just had contributions left and right, and every time we needed a basket.''

Taylor, who missed all of last season with a torn anterior cruciate ligament in her left knee, had five points and four assists in 12 minutes for Phoenix in her first home appearance since Sept. 25, 2011.

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