Griner dunks, Taurasi gets hot in fourth quarter and Mercury pull out 78-72 win over Sparks

PHOENIX (AP) — Brittney Griner scored 29 points, including her 25th dunk as a professional, and the Phoenix Mercury held on for a 78-72 win over the Los Angeles Sparks in a matchup between two struggling teams on Sunday.

Diana Taurasi added 12 of her 22 in the fourth quarter to put her less than 100 points from 10,000 in her career. Moriah Jefferson scored 11 for the Mercury (4-14), who had lost three straight and nine of 10 for the worst record in the WNBA. Griner, who matched her season high for points, also had 11 rebounds.

Nneka Ogwumike had 20 points and 14 boards to lead the short-handed Sparks (7-12), who have lost five straight. Jordin Canada scored 16 points, Azura Stevens added 13 and Jasmine Thomas 10.

The Sparks were without five players and lost starter Dearica Hamby with a sprained ankle midway through the first half.

Griner had 16 points in the first half as the Mercury took a 42-36 lead. Griner was 7-of-11 shooting, including a dunk early in the second quarter. It was her 18th in the regular season to go with five in all-star games and two in the playoffs.

“It felt good, felt good,” Griner said. “”I thought I forgot how to dunk for a little bit there.”

Griner converted a three-point play to put Phoenix on top 68-55 with six minutes to play but Ogwumike scored eight points before Canada drilled back-to-back 3-pointers and the Sparks were within 72-69 with two minutes to go.

Stevens made a free throw and then the Sparks had a chance to tie with a minute left but a Taurasi foul on Canada was overturned on a coach’s challenge. Taurasi made four free throws and Griner two to secure the win.


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