Mercury torch the Sun

Phoenix — The league-leading Phoenix Mercury have the offensive firepower to overwhelm any team in the WNBA.

The Connecticut Sun were the latest team to get scorched by the Mercury late Thursday night.

Penny Taylor scored 17 of her game-high 23 points in the second quarter as Phoenix won its 12th straight game, 101-85, before 9,400 at US Airways Center.

Taylor also had four rebounds, four assists and three steals for the Mercury (18-3). She made seven of her eight field goals in the second quarter to give her team a 51-39 halftime lead.

“She was nothing short of outstanding in that first half,” Sun Katie Douglas said. “She was obviously a reason why they were able to create such a gap between us in the first half.

“I feel like we did a pretty good job in the first half against everyone else, but that’s just a testament to the players that they have. You can shut down one, two, three, four or even five players and they still have so many options. She was definitely feeling it tonight and we just had no answers for her.”

Brittney Griner scored 21 and Candice Dupree added 14 points and seven rebounds for Phoenix (18-3), which need another win or a Seattle Storm loss to clinch a playoff berth.

The Mercury shot 53.5-percent from the floor. It was the third straight game in which they scored 90-or-more points.

Katie Douglas made five 3-pointers and scored 23 with six assists and five rebounds for Connecticut (10-14). Alex Bentley scored 20 and rookie Chiney Ogwumike added 14 points and 10 rebounds.

“A lot of Penny Taylor early,” Sun coach Anne Donovan said. “She took a lot of our momentum I think. We are resilient, we’re a team that works hard and I think we’re better than our record indicates, and we played as well as we could tonight.

“Offensively we turned the ball over a little too much, and when you turn the ball over against Phoenix then they make you pay at the other end. Overall, pretty pleased with our efforts.”

Taylor scored 12 during a 3 1/2-minute stretch of the second quarter, and then hit a 3-pointer from the baseline in the final minute of the period to put the Mercury up 50-36.

Connecticut rallied in the third quarter. Rookie Alyssa Thomas had a putback that cut the Sun’s deficit to 55-50 with over five minutes left in the period.

Phoenix scored nine straight points late in the quarter to go ahead, 76-61.

Griner’s 11-foot bank shot pushed the Mercury ahead, 92-71, with over four minutes left in the game.

“Phoenix is a strong team but we killed ourselves with our turnovers and we didn’t make stops when we needed to,” Bentley said. “We usually get consecutive stops down the stretch, but we weren’t able to do that tonight.”

The Sun go into the All-Star break in fourth place in a tightly bunched Eastern Conference. They're 1 1/2 games behind the second place Indiana Fever, and one game ahead of the last place Chicago Sky.

Connecticut has 10 games left in the regular season. Five of its next seven games are on the road, and it's a woeful 3-9 away from home. Its next game is at the Washington Mystics on July 23.

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