Mercury play final game before Olympics

This is it. The last game before the Olympic Break. Diana Taurasi and Britney Griner are about to head to Rio to represent team USA.

I asked Griner a bit about what makes coach Geno Auriemma so unique.

“He expects nothing but greatness from you. And even then, he wants more. It’s really intense, but it’s what you need. That’s why he’s one of the best coaches,” Griner said.

“He demands more than you ever think you can give,” Elena Delle Donne said.

“As it gets closer, you feel that energy of the Olympic Games. I’m feeling good; I’m feeling that energy,” Taurasi said.

I asked Penny Taylor, who plays for Australia, how to beat the USA team.

Not a very good idea. That makes me sound unpatriotic. I love our team. Go USA.

“We just hope they don’t have a great game, and we have a perfect game,” Taylor said.

Sounds about right.

“In the past, we’ve kind of focused on them too much. Our first game is against Brazil in Brazil, so that’s where our minds at right now,” Taylor said.

I asked coach Sandy Brondello about the challenge of getting this team to re-gel after a month off.

“You have to do what you think is right for this team. When they come back, we’ll give them ten days off, and then we’ll give them small group work,” Brondello said.

Brondello stressed the importance of finishing strong and closing out the season before the break with a victory.

At the end of one, the Mercury trailed 10-22. Both Griner and Taurasi were held scoreless.

By halftime, the Mercury trailed 30-42. Candice Dupree led all Mercury scorers with eight points.

Griner and Cappie Pondexter were both ejected from the game after a scuffle early in the third quarter.

The Merc then went on a massive run in the third quarter to take a 47-46 lead.

After a back and forth third quarter, the Mercury led 56-53 at the end of three. DeWanna Bonner led the way in scoring with 14 points. Dupree had 12, and Taurasi had 11.

The fourth quarter was great. It was another back and forth battle, but the ending was heartbreaking.

Unfortunately, the Sky hit the game-winning shot with under a second left, on a tip-in, and the Mercury were doomed.

Your final score: Mercury 77, Sky-79.

Bonner led the way for the Mercury with 20 points; Dupree had 18, and Taurasi had 13.

“I didn’t think we came out with the energy that we needed to,” Brondello said.

The inconsistency was there again tonight, and Taurasi had some harsh but factual words.

“That’s been pretty much the story of our season, inconsistent play,” Taurasi said.

Well, good luck to our girls in Rio. Go USA.

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