Kahleah Copper’s last-second 3 lifts Mercury over Lynx

Jun 7, 2024, 10:01 PM

Kahleah Copper #2 of the Phoenix Mercury puts up the game winning three-point shot over Napheesa Co...

Kahleah Copper #2 of the Phoenix Mercury puts up the game winning three-point shot over Napheesa Collier #24 of the Minnesota Lynx during the final moments of the WNBA game at Footprint Center on June 07, 2024 in Phoenix, Arizona. The Mercury defeated the Lynx 81-80. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

(Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

PHOENIX (AP) — Kahleah Copper made a 3-pointer with less than a second remaining and scored 34 points to rally Phoenix to an 81-80 victory over the Western Conference-leading Minnesota Lynx on Friday night in Brittney Griner’s return to the Mercury.

Copper sank 13 of 23 shots, none bigger than her final one, in helping Phoenix (5-6) win for just the second time in its last seven games under first-year coach Nate Tibbetts. Griner, fully recovered from a toe fracture that kept her out until now, debuted with 11 points, four rebounds and a block in just over 21 minutes.

Diana Taurasi scored 12 points but made just 4 of 19 shots, including 1 of 7 from beyond the arc, for Phoenix. Copper said Tibbetts originally designed the final play for Taurasi, but the veteran lobbied for Copper to take the shot instead.

Natasha Cloud had 10 assists to go with eight points.

Kayla McBride sank a career-best eight 3-pointers and scored 25 to lead Minnesota (7-3), which had a three-game win streak end. Napheesa Collier added 20 points, 12 rebounds and six assists. Alanna Smith had 12 points and six assists before fouling out.

Copper had nine points in the first quarter to lead Phoenix to a 21-15 advantage.

McBride made a 3-pointer with 5:19 left in the second quarter, putting the Lynx on top for the first time at 29-28. Griner, who had nine points by halftime, followed with a three-point play and the Mercury stayed in front in building a 38-35 lead at the break. Griner helped Phoenix outscore Minnesota 22-6 in the paint in the first 20 minutes.

Copper hit a 3-pointer midway through the third quarter to give the Mercury a 49-42 lead. McBride buried three 3-pointers in an 18-5 run and the Lynx took a 60-54 advantage into the final period.

Phoenix improved to 4-1 at home.

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