Connecticut Sun guard Jasmine Thomas (5) confronts Phoenix Mercury guard Diana Taurasi after being fouled during the first half of a single-elimination WNBA basketball playoff game Thursday, Aug. 23, 2018, in Uncasville, Conn. (Sean D. Elliot/The Day via AP)

Griner, Taurasi help Mercury beat Sun 96-86

August 24, 2018 - 10:06 am

UNCASVILLE, Conn. (AP) — Diana Taurasi has made a career of playing her best on the biggest stage.

The Phoenix star improved to 13-0 in playoff-deciding games, scoring 27 points in the Mercury's 96-86 victory over the Connecticut Sun on Thursday in the second round of the WNBA playoffs.

"If I had the answer I'd gladly tell you," Taurasi said. "A lot of it is luck. A lot of it is having great teammates. You don't do it alone in this sport. We relish these moments where it's up to you if you want to keep playing."

Brittney Griner also had 27 points, most in the second half, and keyed a 15-5 run to close the game with four points and a key block.

"(Dewanna Bonner) came to me in the locker room at halftime and told me to stop being passive," Griner said. "It kind of hit me. I started being more aggressive. Encouraging me and getting on me to go a little harder."

The Mercury will face Seattle in the conference semifinals, starting Sunday.

"Seattle is the No. 1 team in the league. Breanna Stewart has had a fantastic season," Phoenix coach Sandy Brondello said. "They have a really strong five and good bench that can come in. We haven't played Seattle with the lineup we have. We know it's a five-game series. We'll focus on that first game."

Stephanie Talbot hit a 3-pointer to tie it at 94 with 4:19 left. Griner then scored four points and had a key block on Courtney Williams to give the Mercury a 92-86 lead with 1:11 left.

The game was a rematch of last season's second-round contest that the Mercury won 88-83. The Mercury didn't have Bonner, who was out for the season while she gave birth to twins. On Thursday night, she played nearly the entire game and finished with 23 points and 18 rebounds.

Williams led the Sun with 27 points, including a four-point play in the fourth quarter. Alyssa Thomas had 17 points and Chiney Ogwumike, who averages 14 points, had two points on 1-of-5 shooting.

"To come up short against the same team again is frustrating for everybody," Williams said. "We got to watch more film and get better and come back a stronger team."

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