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Taurasi, Griner, Bonner combine for 77 points to push Mercury to semifinals

Phoenix Mercury's Diana Taurasi fouls Connecticut Sun guard Jasmine Thomas (5) during the first half of a single-game WNBA basketball playoff matchup Thursday, Aug. 23, 2018, in Uncasville, Conn. (Sean D. Elliot/The Day via AP)

As UConn head coach Geno Auriemma used to say, “We have Diana and you don’t.”

It’s been 14 years since guard Diana Taurasi led the Huskies to three straight NCAA Championships, but the Connecticut crowd was reminded of her former coach’s mantra in the WNBA conference semifinals Thursday.

The Phoenix Mercury had Diana Taurasi. The Connecticut Sun did not.

You can guess who came out on top.

The Mercury great is now 13-0 in winner-take-all games.

Taurasi, center Brittney Griner and forward DeWanna Bonner combined for 77 points as Phoenix defeated the Sun 96-86.

After 39 minutes of tormenting Connecticut, the dynamic trio put together a drive to ice the game.

Griner set a pick for Taurasi, who was handling the ball. She flipped a pass toward the middle of the floor for Bonner.

The defense followed Mercury’s dominant big, who cleared out of the lane just enough to give Bonner a lane. She laid it in to give the Mercury a six-point lead with just over a minute remaining.

It was an exclamation point of Phoenix’s 10-0 run in the final two-and-a-half minutes to secure the victory.

Despite the offensive dominance of those three, the Mercury had to play catch-up for much of the game. Even with a 9-0 run in the first, they trailed by one heading into the second quarter.

But Taurasi found ways to attack the Sun from all over the court.

She drained a three to cut the deficit to one as the first half was winding down. Then, a minute later, she drove into the lane and made a nifty reverse layup.

The Sun went into the half with the lead, but Taurasi kept the Mercury close. She scored her 20th point early in the third quarter.

It wasn’t just Taurasi, though. The Mercury don’t have the highest-scoring trio in the WNBA on their team for nothing.

Quick ball movement helped Griner get easy looks down low.

After she established a strong post presence, Griner was free to take advantage of double teams and dish to perimeter players.

And don’t forget — Griner has led the league in blocks every season since entering the league.

She made perhaps the play of the game with two minutes left, sticking with the crafty Courtney Williams and getting under the net to block the reverse layup attempt.

Taurasi and Griner both recorded 27 points, while Bonner scored 23 and added 18 rebounds.

The Mercury advance to the WNBA Semifinals, where they will take on the Seattle Storm in a best-of-five series.

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