Sky get crucial win against Mercury

Five players scored in double figures in the must-win game against the 10th-place Mercury.

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Sky players celebrate during Sunday’s win over the Mercury.

Sky players celebrate during Sunday’s win over the Mercury.

Gary Dineen/NBAE via Getty Images

The Sky needed to get back in the win column.

After dropping two straight at Wintrust Arena, including a loss to the last-place Storm on Friday, they had moved into a tie with the Sparks for the eighth and last playoff spot. The Sky’s 104-85 victory against the Mercury on Sunday not only put them a game up on the Sparks, but it provided a much-needed reset after they opened the second half losing three of four.

“Yesterday we came together, watched film and talked about what’s important and how we can continue to make this push for the playoffs,” Kahleah Copper said. “It was important for us to come out, feel good and bounce back.”

The Sky had five players scoring in double figures, including Copper, who had 24 points, and Marina Mabrey, who had 23. Interim coach/general manager Emre Vatansever emphasized the importance of ball movement, which led to 27 assists on 39 made field goals.

It was the Sky’s first game this season in which they scored more than 100 points in regulation.

“We have to challenge each other to continue to show up,” Copper said. “We have to challenge each other and continue to give each other confidence. After the last game, I went to Courtney [Williams] in the locker room and said, ‘You have to score; we need you to contribute.’ And she responded today.”

Williams had 19 points, nine assists and four rebounds. In her most complete game, Sky rookie Robyn Parks had 14 points, three assists and three rebounds. Parks was signed to a training-camp contract in February. Former Sky coach/general manager James Wade took note of her overseas season in which she led Italian club Magnolia La Molisana Campobasso with 19.8 points per game.

“She’s a very experienced player; she’s just new to the WNBA,” Vatansever said. “We knew she was capable of making shots and good plays. I’m happy she had time to play today and showed that we can trust her.”

After allowing 26 points off second-chance looks to Seattle, the Sky limited the Mercury, who were without Brittney Griner, to five points off eight offensive rebounds.

The Mercury announced Saturday night that Griner would not be traveling for their two-game road trip to Chicago and Indiana to focus on her mental health. Mercury interim coach Nikki Blue, who reiterated before the game that the team is in full support of Griner, didn’t provide a timeline for her return.

Even without Griner, the Mercury outrebounded the Sky 29-27 and outscored them in the paint 34-32. The Sky shot 52.7% from the field and 57.1% from three-point range.

Diana Taurasi had 24 points, six rebounds, four assists and two blocks for Phoenix. Replacing Griner in the starting lineup, Megan Gustafson had 17 points, and Michaela Onyenwere added 18 points off the bench.

The Sky have a break before playing a two-game series against the Wings on Friday and Sunday.

“We’re just going to continue working on what we’ve been working on, and the result will take care of itself,” Vatansever said.

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