Mercury lose wild game

Coming into the game on a three-game winning streak, the Mercury were feeling good. However, things did not go their way in the first quarter. It was evident from the get-go the Mercury were sorely missing guard Penny Taylor. Taylor was out for a second straight game with a hip injury.

In the first quarter, the Mercury were ice cold, and the Liberty were burning hot. They allowed 29 points, but the Liberty shot a scorching 73% from the field, and the Merc shot 26%. They didn’t play weak defense. The Liberty were simply hitting everything while the Mercury were shooting bricks.

“Sweet” Sugar Rodgers (yes, I just made up that nickname) had nine points for the Liberty in the first quarter, and the Mercury knew they’d have to focus on stopping her.

Things didn’t get much better in the second quarter. The Mercury trailed 39-53 at the half. Rodgers had just three in the second quarter, but it didn’t matter. For the Merc, Griner was the lone bright spot in the first half.

In the third quarter, things spiraled out of control. The infuriation towards the officiating boiled over and resulted in ejections for Britney Griner & Diana Taurasi, practically sealing the win for the Liberty. Without these two stars, the Mercury wouldn’t stand a chance down 20.

“Britney gets hacked all the time. Tina Charles, she’s a great player, but she’s getting calls when I don’t think she should. Britney Griner never gets those calls,” coach Sandy Brondello said. “She (Griner) just lost her cool.”

“These are silly things that shouldn’t have happened, and they’re happening too often on this floor. I don’t know what the answer is, so hopefully the WNBA can fix it,” Brondello said.

Taurasi got tossed for swearing. “And with Diana, she did not swear. She said “that’s horrible,” Brondello said.

In all of my time watching sports I have never seen so many fouls called on one team in such a limited time. Readers, I must tell you, I was in shock. There were at least five fouls in one minute called on the Mercury. The crowd was in hysterics, the players were irate, and there was a real wave of electricity that I felt pass throughout the arena. Or perhaps it was just me, as this was probably the second time I’ve ever seen a player get ejected from a basketball game, (in person).

Let me tell you, again; this was UNBELIEVABLE. Griner used some vulgar language in response to a foul called on her behalf, so she was tossed. Taurasi stepped in to defend not Griner’s language but to dispute the foul, and then SHE got tossed. I’m thoroughly convinced one of the referees had been an MLB Umpire at one point or another in their lifetime. There were so many fouls called I couldn’t even keep track of who they were being called on.

“I don’t even know what happened; there was just so much going on. Everybody getting thrown out, technicals, I don’t know,” DeWanna Bonner said.

Then, the Merc went on a 7-0 run fueled by the crowd’s energy and cut the Liberty lead to 14. At one point it honestly felt like the Mercury were going to do the impossible and come back and win without their two stars. But the Liberty pulled back ahead when a timeout mellowed out the crowd. At the end of 3, the Mercury trailed, 58-76. Bonner led the way with 18 for Phoenix. Tina Charles had 22 for New York.

“It’s hard to play five against eight,” Candice Dupree said.

In the fourth quarter, Bonner did everything she could to get the Mercury back into the game, but she couldn’t do it alone. The Mercury managed to trim the lead down to seven points, but couldn’t manage to come back completely. Still, it was a terrific effort for them to come back from down 18 without two of the best players in the WNBA, and trim the lead to seven. I am very proud of the way they fought after Taurasi and Griner were ejected. It truly goes to show what this team is capable of when they are fired up.

“We showed a bit of heart,” Brondello said. “We responded in the right way.”

“This is a loss that I’m actually kind of proud of, I mean we could’ve easily just folded. We showed some fight,” Bonner said.

Britney Griner and Diana Taurasi were not available for comment after the game. They did not want to be fined.

Tina Charles finished with 29 points for the Liberty, while Sweet Sugar Rodgers had 22 of her own. Tanisha Wright and Shavonte Zellous both had 14. For the Mercury, Bonner led the way with 22; Candice Dupree had 10, Griner had 12, and Lindsey Harding had 10.

Your final score: Mercury-88, Liberty-99.

Up next for the Mercury is a matchup with the Atlanta Dream Sunday at 3 pm.

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