I'm not going to lie, I didn't give the Phoenix Mercury much hope of beating the Seattle Storm on the road in a decisive Game 3 playoff contest. The Mercury were just 2-11 against the Storm over the last two years and hadn't won in Seattle since who knows when. More importantly, Seattle was a team that matched up very well against Phoenix and had advantages all over the floor but especially with Sue Bird and Lauren Jackson.
While covering the Diamondbacks game, I kept an eye on the score and noticed the Mercury were down 18 points in the second quarter and assumed it was over. The Storm had already run Phoenix out of their building in Game 1 and this game looked to be heading in the same direction.
Instead, Phoenix somehow battled back and despite Diana Taurasi fouling out halfway through the fourth quarter they hung on to win the game. Reports are Candice Dupree got an offensive rebound for a put back with 1.9 seconds to win the game.
The box score tells us that Penny Taylor, who has suffered with back problems late in the season, recorded 19 points and an incredible 17 rebounds. Dupree had 20 points and Taurasi 19 in under 30 minutes of play.
With the win, the Mercury advance to the Western Conference Finals to face either the Minnesota Lynx or San Antonio Silver Stars who's series is tied 1-1 with Game 3 on Tuesday. The conference finals begin on Thursday in Phoenix if San Antonio wins and Thursday in Minnesota if the Lynx do.
Check out this recap from SB Nation Seattle.
Seattle Storm Vs. Phoenix Mercury Final Score: Storm Eliminated From WNBA Playoffs In a 77-75 Heartbreaker - SB Nation Seattle
All that focus on getting homecourt advantage was about games like tonight. With the game tied in Game Three of a best-of-three playoff series, the odds would normally favor the Seattle Storm at KeyArena where they'd only lost three times in 40 previous games.
But ultimately the final minute was won by exactly what won the series: rebounding and tenacity in the paint. Mercury forward Penny Taylor was able to get a hand on her own missed layup and tap it to Candice Dupree who hit a short jumper with 1.9 seconds left to lift the Mercury to a 77-75 win and a trip to the Western Conference Finals.
For full postgame quotes, visit Swish Appeal. Here's Coach Corey Gaines on what he said to Penny Taylor after Taurasi fouled out:
Mercury Vs. Storm: Post Game Quotes - Swish Appeal
I called Penny (Taylor) over and said, "Penny, take as many shots as you can possible get right now." I told her that. And I said I didn't care if they were "threes, twos, let the ball go. I need you to take as many shots as possible." And she did. She did. And she also got 17 rebounds which was pretty big.