PHOENIX (AP) — Kahleah Copper scored 15 points and the Chicago Sky spoiled Brittney Griner’s regular-season home debut, holding on down the stretch for a 75-69 win over the Phoenix Mercury on Sunday.
Griner finished with 27 points, 10 rebounds and four blocked shots in her first regular-season home game since being released after spending more than 10 months in a Russian prison.
She nor the Mercury could do enough to pull out the win.
Chicago led by 11 in the second half, but Phoenix pulled within 66-64 on Diana Taurasi’s 3-pointer with three minutes left. After the Sky pushed the lead back to five, Griner scored on a three-point play to make it 69-67 and the Mercury forced a miss.
Chicago’s Dana Evans then hit a running bank shot sandwiched between two Phoenix turnovers and Rebekah Gardner hit two free throws to seal it with 16 seconds left.
Evans finished with 13 points and Courtney Williams added 12 for the Sky (2-0).
Taurasi had 16 points and Sug Sutton added 13 for Phoenix (0-2).
Griner had 18 points in the Mercury’s season opener, a 94-71 loss to the Los Angeles Sparks Friday night.
Griner received a massive ovation during player introductions in her first regular-season home game in a year and a half. The 6-foot-9 center won the opening tip, took her familiar position in the low post and opened the game with a three-point play.
Both teams struggled getting shots to fall early until Copper got hot.
The Chicago forward hit consecutive 3-pointers midway through the second quarter and added a driving layup to put the Sky up 37-26.
Cooper had 13 points by halftime and the Sky led 41-35.
Chicago pushed the lead to 51-41 early in the third quarter, but Griner brought the fans to life and out of their seats with a 3-pointer that pulled Phoenix within 58-53 late in the third quarter.
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