Skylar Diggins-Smith scores 27, helps Mercury beat Liberty
NEW YORK — Skylar Diggins-Smith scored 27 points and Diana Taurasi added 19 to help the short-handed Phoenix Mercury beat the New York Liberty 80-64 on Friday night.
Phoenix was missing star center Brittney Griner, who sprained her left ankle with just over a minute left Wednesday night in the Mercury’s victory over the Liberty to open the two-game set. Coach Sandy Brondello said before the game that she wasn’t too concerned and that Griner should be back soon.
Kia Vaughn replaced Griner in the starting lineup and had nine points and 11 rebounds for the Mercury (15-10), who have won six straight.
New York trailed by 19 points in the second quarter before rallying to take a brief lead in the third quarter. With the game tied at 50 late in the third quarter, Diggins-Smith had consecutive three-point plays to give the Mercury a six-point lead. Taurasi added a 3-pointer to start the fourth and New York never recovered.
Natasha Howard led New York (11-16) with 18 points. Sabrina Ionescu finished with 12 points, 10 rebounds and nine assists. She was an assist short of joining Sheryl Swoopes as the only players in league history to have two triple-doubles in their careers.
HONORING THE PAST:
The Liberty raised the three Eastern Conference championships banners from 1999, 2000 and 2002. They brought back former players Sue Wicks, Kym Hampton, Teresa Weatherspoon and Tamika Whitmore to celebrate the occasion as well as former mascot Maddie.
Mercury: Host Chicago on Tuesday.
Liberty: At Minnesota on Tuesday to begin a three-game trip.