By C. Coward
With 34 points and seven rebounds, Alexis Gray-Lawson led Phoenix to victory in the team’s only preseason contest. The Mercury defeated the Japanese National Team 102-73.
Veteran forward Chardé Houston contributed 14 points, Andrea Riley had 10 points plus six assists and Chastity Reed contributed 11 points. 6-3 center, rookie Avery Warley (Liberty) and Latvian center Zane Tamane (Western Illinois) led in the rebounding column with 13 each. Warley also scored eight points while Tamane had six. Rookie Samantha Prahalis scored seven points and dished out seven assists.
Warley finished her collegiate career as the leading rebounder in Big South Conference history with 1,282 boards. She was named MVP of the 2012 Big South Championship and led her team to three NCAA tournament appearances (2009, 2010 and 2012) over the course of her four years at Liberty.
The Detroit Shock selected Tamane in the third round 2006 draft and she later signed as a free agent with the Washington Mystics. She played 16 games that season. Overseas she plays next to injured Phoenix forward Penny Taylor for Fenerbahce in Istanbul, Turkey.
Yuka Mamiya led Japan with 19 points and six rebounds. Teammate Kumiko Oba came off the bench for 16 points and Maki Takada finished with 12.
The Mercury also made roster moves on Tuesday waiving 5-9 guard C’eira Ricketts and 6-3 forward Christine Flores. The current team roster stands at 14. Candice Dupree and DeWanna Bonner reported to camp and did not play in the preseason game. Diana Taurasi will join the team after USA Basketball training camp in Seattle May 11-13.
The Mercury tips off the regular season on May 20 in Minnesota against the defending champion Lynx.