On Friday, the Phoenix Mercury hosted the Dallas Wings to open up the 2018 WNBA season. Dallas wanted to establish their newest acquisition Liz Cambage. The 6’9″ center was featured in pick and roll action with Skylar Diggins-Smith and isolation post-ups to start the game. This is part of what led to early foul trouble for Mercury star Brittney Griner as she picked up two fouls in the first five minutes of play. Leilani Mitchell was a huge spark off of the bench for the Mercury as she scored seven points in the first quarter. After the first quarter Phoenix was up 20-18.
The second quarter started off with more bully ball from Dallas as Cambage did more work in the post scoring eight points in the period. The Mercury responded with a heavy dose of Diana Taurasi as she scored 14 points the second quarter alone. Even with the Wings playing a more physical game they only shot five total free throws compared to Phoenix’s 15 in the half. The Mercury were up 44-42 after a very competitive first half.
In the third quarter Taurasi stayed hot as she made her fourth 3 pointer of the game making her the first player in WNBA history with 1,000 3 point field goals made. In the third quarter the Mercury turned up their defense by pressuring the ball handlers and doubling Cambage in the post. The defensive pressure from Phoenix lead to Dallas only scoring 11 points during the period. Mercury led 61-53 after three quarters.
The fourth quarter was started by Diggins-Smith opening up on offense, and pushing the pace for the Wings. The lead was cut from eight to four as the Mercury led 74-70 with 3:32 left in the fourth quarter when Phoenix took a timeout. After the timeout the Mercury went on a eight to two run which was the final nail in the coffin for the Wings. Mercury won the game 86-78.
Taurasi finished with 26 points and went 5 for 8 from behind the 3 point line, stepping up as Griner was in foul trouble most of the game. Dewanna Bonner played a huge role as with 17 points and 12 rebounds. The Wings had impressive performances from Diggins-Smith and Cambage as they scored 18 points each.