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Mercury knock out defending champion Storm, advance to WNBA semifinals


In an epic elimination showdown on Sunday, the Phoenix Mercury advanced to the third round of the WNBA playoffs, knocking out the defending champion Seattle Storm in an 85-80 OT victory.

There was nothing but big plays from the Western Conference rivalry that even needed five extra minutes to determine a winner.

Brittney Griner led all scorers with 23 points, while Diggins-Smith recorded 20, and Kia Nurse and Brianna Turner each had 12. Taurasi, who made her return Sunday after missing the previous four games due to an ankle injury, scored 6 of her 14 points in overtime.

Phoenix took the early lead going up 32-20 in the second quarter. Meanwhile, Storm players Mercedes Russell, Katie Lou Samuelson, and Jewell Loyd all chipped in before Sue Bird buried a deep 3-pointer to give Seattle its first lead just before halftime.

The Storm strengthened their lead to 41-35 in the third quarter, with Phoenix trailing closely behind, with neither team leading by more than five points the rest of the way.

Tied at 70-70 in the final minutes of the fourth quarter, Skylar Diggins-Smith connected on one free throw, and Griner had a final drive to give Phoenix a 73-70 lead.

Bird eventually drilled a 3-pointer that pushed the score to 73-73 with a minute left. The game finally tipped into an extra period where the Mercury outscored Seattle 12-7. Brianna Turner had a killer defensive swat in overtime, while Taurasi drained a jumper with 2:14 left.

Seattle’s season comes to an end without star player Breanna Stewart playing due to a foot injury.