Leilani Mitchell’s buzzer-beating trey douses the Sun in 81-80 Mercury win
Phoenix Mercury guard Leilani Mitchell dashed the Connecticut Sun’s dreams of breaking out a slump when she nailed a three-point shot with 0.3 seconds left in the game to catapult her team over their East Coast foe, 81-80, at Mohegan Sun Arena.
Sun guard Jasmine Thomas gave her team a two-point advantage after a pair of free throws with 4.8 seconds on the clock but Mitchell repeated what she did to Los Angeles in July, hit a game-winner in the last moments to finish a tough road game. She finished with 16 points.
While the Sun led 48-41 at the half, the Mercury outscored Connecticut in the last two periods.
Phoenix (17-11) was led by DeWanna Bonner who scored 26 points and pulled down six rebounds. Brittney Griner contributed a double-double of 14 points and 13 rebounds while Monique Currie added 13 points.
Thomas was the Sun’s top scorer with 21, a career high. She had 13 points in the first quarter including the first 10 for the Sun. Camille Little added 16 points and four rebounds, Kelsey Bone scored 13 points along with grabbing seven rebounds. Shekinna Stricklen was also in double figures with 10 points.
The Sun (12-16) remains in fifth place in the East, seven games behind fourth place Washington. The game put their playoffs chances further out of reach. The loss increased their losing streak to six.
The Mercury has already clinched a playoff spot. Phoenix continues their road trip to Washington to face the Mystics on Friday and take on the West’s top team, the Lynx, on Sunday in Minneapolis.
The Sun hosts the top team in the East, the New York Liberty, on Saturday.
- Going into the game, Phoenix was No.2 in the league in fewest turnovers per game (12.30). The Sun forced the Mercury into 17 turnovers, resulting in 23 points.
- The Sun are 8-3 against the Western Conference this season and split the season series with Phoenix.
- Brittney Griner earned her eighth double-double of the season and the 21st of her career.
- The Mercury rallied from 10 points down to win for the fifth time this season.
Sun head coach Anne Donovan
On what she is telling the team
“I really don’t have anything to say. I feel like we just left everything out there that we could’ve possibly left out there and I think we deserved that win. But that’s the unfortunate thing about sports. You don’t get what you deserve a lot of times or what you worked for but this was one of those games where I feel like we did a lot of things right.”
On the last two 3-pointers by Phoenix and doing things differently
“I think (DeWanna) Bonner, yeah. She was out there but she is scoring on us pretty much at will. We needed to be up on her and into her much more than Kelly (Faris) was. And then, Leilani (Mitchell), no, that last shot was just a great shot by her. I mean there was some technical things, like talking to Jenn (Lacy) before the possession, like not letting it come back to the inbounder and it did come back to the inbounder and (Noelle) Quinn kind of drove and set that up so that technically, prior to the three, there are some things that we should’ve done differently.”
On (Kelsey) Bone defending (Brittney) Griner
“Yeah, you know, her first move of the game was a great move. She had a couple steps, a couple fakes, she left Griner behind her and missed a bunny. And then she got away from that. She started taking jump shots towards the end of the first half so at halftime, we just asked her to regroup and get back down low and do what she does so well. It didn’t always connect but she did a good job. I liked her mentality tonight.”
On needing that effort tonight
“Yes we did. We needed to get her back on track and more than me knowing it, Bone knew it. She got focused and spoke to the team before the game tonight and she had a great message to them so she was definitely on track tonight and focused. I think everyone was, I can’t fault anybody.”
Sun center Kelsey Bone
On a tough game tonight
“One of the best teams in the league, a lot of different weapons. You prepare a game plan and you execute it to last six seconds. That’s just a part of this league. We didn’t lose the game on that play, there are a lot of things we didn’t take advantage of throughout the game and we put them into a position to be able to do that and that’s kind of where we are.”
Sun guard Jasmine Thomas
On fundamental defense between tonight and Atlanta Tuesday
“If you really watch that game in Atlanta, there are times where our offense was a little jumbled but there were more times where we played good offense, the ball just didn’t go in. Today, that was just the opposite. We played more aggressive, we were getting in the paint, we were playing outside and in, we were moving the ball, and those shots that didn’t go in in Atlanta, went in today.
On thoughts during last foul shot
“Get one, at least get one. The first one felt good too, I thought it was going to go in but it didn’t. I just wanted to stay focused and make sure I made one of them.”
Mercury head coach Sandy Brondello
On the final play
“The play was actually meant for DB (DeWanna Bonner), but once she fell on the ground we had to look for a different option and we always keep playing. We made an aggressive play and we got lucky. Do we deserve the win? Probably not. I thought Connecticut came with fight tonight and we made a play at the end the sealed the game for us. Credit to Connecticut , they were aggressive tonight, but we will take the win and we have to get ready for Washington.”
On the matchup between Connecticut and Phoenix
“They (Connecticut) can shoot the three, they can post up inside, and they have players that can play off the dribble. I think Camille Little certainly helps them with her veteran leadership. They are an aggressive team and they were making plays. I thought we felt it was a little too easy in the first quarter and we lost momentum. It took us the whole game to gain it back and we had to fight tooth and nail.”
On the team’s final stretch in the regular season
“We have to win games on the road and we have to play better on the road for number one. We have to focus on ourselves and what we are doing. We play one game at a time; our next focus is making sure we come ready to play against Washington because obviously they are a very good team. We need to execute better and play with a little more consistency in our game.”
Mercury guard Leilani Mitchell
On the final play
“It was a bit of a broken play. The play was supposed to get into DB (DeWanna Bonner) and as you saw she got tripped up. Noelle (Quinn) made a good play, attacked, kicked it out to me, and I just tried to put up a good shot before the clock expired.”
On being up early and then having to come back late
“I think in the second half we buckled down on defense. Our first quarter we played well, but in the second quarter we relaxed and they scored 31 points. We regrouped in the second half and started to get some stops in the second half. I think that helped us in the end.”
On finishing the season strong
“We have to play our game. I think when our starters and our bench come in aggressive and we play together, I think that takes us to a new level.”
Mercury forward DeWanna Bonner
On the come from behind win
“We came out pretty well, but we got in a hole in the second quarter. I think we picked it up on defense in the second half. We started having each other’s backs and rebounded the ball better. Connecticut played a great game having such a limited team right now. We are lucky to come out of her with the win.”
On the Connecticut/Phoenix matchup
“I think they matchup well with us. Kelsey Bone is a beast inside and you have Jasmine Thomas who had a hell of a game tonight. Those two players themselves kept them in the game, and you have other players who are role players who can come out on any given night and score. It is hard for us on the road some times, so we have to come out, keep the pedal to the metal, and not let a team get confidence.
On the final road stretch of the season
“Keep grinding. That is what you have to do on the road, it’s a grind. You have to grind it out and that is what we did tonight. No matter what, a win is a win and that is what we have to do the rest of the way. This win on the road boosted our confidence and we have a back to back with Washington so it is going to be tough, but we just have to keep grinding.”
By the Numbers
Points in the Paint: Mercury 36, Sun 40
Second Chance Points: Mercury 17, Sun 4
Fastbreak Points: Mercury 5, Sun 9
Biggest Lead: Mercury 12, Sun 11
Lead Changes: 12
Times Tied: 2
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