Griner’s dunk highlights Phoenix’s win over Liberty

NEW YORK (AP) — Skylar Diggins-Smith scored 27 points, Brittney Griner added 26, including her third dunk of the season, and Phoenix beat the New York Liberty 106-79 on Wednesday night for the Mercury’s fifth straight victory.

Griner also had nine rebounds and six assists before getting helped off the court with 1:38 left in the fourth with a left ankle injury.

Diana Taurasi added 21 points with five 3-pointers for Phoenix (14-10), which made 12 of 25 from distance. Brianna Turner had 10 points and 15 rebounds. Griner dunked for the 15th time in her regular-season career — and the rest of the WNBA has combined for just three in 25 seasons.

The Mercury dominated the first quarter, building a 35-19 lead behind 12 points from Diggins-Smith and 70.9% shooting. Phoenix led 55-42 at the break with 40 combined points from Diggins-Smith, Griner and Taurasi.

Taurasi and Diggins-Smith each made a 3-pointer on consecutive Phoenix possessions to extend the lead to 71-49 early in the third. New York cut its deficit to 10 points in the fourth, but the Mercury closed on a 17-0 run. It was the first time this season that the Mercury had scored 100 or more in a game.

Betnijah Laney led New York (11-15) with 20 points. Rookie DiDi Richards scored a season-high 14 and Sabrina Ionescu added 10 points and seven assists. The Liberty made three 3-pointers in the first quarter to set a franchise record for makes in a season.

New York was missing Sami Whitcomb, the league’s leading 3-point shooter, who is out for two weeks due to an ankle injury.

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More AP women’s basketball: https://apnews.com/hub/womens-basketball and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

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