Throughout her basketball career, Phoenix Mercury guard Diana Taurasi had never lost in a elimination game.
Not while she was playing in college at UConn. Not while she was playing in Europe. Not during her time in the WNBA.
She had compiled a perfect 13-0 record.
That stretch, though, came to an end on Tuesday night.
The Seattle Storm rallied back to beat the Mercury 94-84 in Game 5 of the WNBA semifinals at Key Arena in Seattle on Tuesday night. The Storm will advance to the WNBA Finals for the first time since 2010.
— Seattle Storm (@seattlestorm) September 5, 2018
The Mercury took control of the game first and built up an 11-point lead midway through the second quarter, thanks to 15 first half points from point guard Yvonne Turner. A late 12-6 run by the Storm to close the period, though, brought them right back in the game and sent them to the locker room trailing by just five points.
Less than two minutes into the fourth quarter, though, Storm rookie Jordin Canada drilled a 3-pointer to give Seattle its first lead of the game. The two teams bounced back and forth, until a massive 15-3 run with less than four minutes left in the game — sparked by a pair of 3-point buckets from WNBA veteran Sue Bird, who hadn’t scored since the first quarter — sent the Storm surging ahead.
Bird, the 11-time WNBA All-Star who suffered a broken nose in Game 4 and was forced to wear a face mask on Tuesday night, didn’t stop there. Bird finished the quarter with 14 points, thanks to another key bucket from behind the arc in the closing minutes, to help Seattle seal the deal and roll to the 10-point win.
Storm forward Breanna Stewart, the league MVP, finished the game with 28 points and seven rebounds, leading Seattle. Bird, thanks to her massive final quarter, added 22 points.
Mercury center Brittney Griner led Phoenix with 21 points and nine rebounds on Tuesday night. Turner finished with 19 points, and Taurasi added 17, shooting 7-of-15 from the field.
The Storm will advance to the WNBA Finals on Friday, where they’ll take on the Washington Mystics. Washington, who is playing in its first WNBA Finals in franchise history, survived a late push in Game 5 on Tuesday night to beat the Atlanta Dream 86-81.
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