Taurasi too much for Sky in 106-99 loss

                                                                                                                                                                                                   
 
 
Updated 8/18/2009 10:05 PM

Eight young men, who appeared to be college-aged, spent the better part of Tuesday's Chicago Sky game relentlessly heckling and chanting at Phoenix Mercury star guard Diana Taurasi.

Taurasi, who ranks second in the WNBA in scoring (20.8 ppg), faces three drunken driving related charges, including extreme DUI, after being pulled over for speeding last month in Phoenix. But it was Taurasi who wound up getting the last word.

 

Taurasi helped Phoenix, which was down by as many as 7 points in the fourth quarter, get back into the game and then ultimately overtake the Sky. She nailed 2 backbreaking three-pointers in the final 90 seconds to lift Phoenix to a 106-99 victory in front of 3,334 fans at the UIC Pavilion.

Taurasi wound up with a game-high 27 points.

The Mercury, the top team in the Western Conference, improves to 18-8 while the Sky, which got a career-high 26 points from Shyra Ely and 22 points from rookie Kristi Toliver, drops to 13-13.

The Sky, playing without injured star center Sylvia Fowles (sprained left ankle), entered the game sitting in fourth place in the Eastern Conference and is still very much alive in the playoff race.

"I thought (the chanting) was interesting," said Sky forward Candice Dupree, who couldn't remember hearing anything like it in a WNBA arena. "Unfortunately, it didn't help us. We had some defensive breakdowns (at the end of the game) and we can't do things like that if we want to win games."

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The Sky slipped up on some defensive switches in the waning minutes and that gave Taurasi near wide-open looks on her clutch three-point shots. In between Taurasi's three-pointers, Chicago native Cappie Pondexter (23 points) also nailed a three-point shot virtually unchallenged.

That added up to a 9-2 Phoenix run that turned a 96-95 Sky lead with 2:05 left to a 104-98 Sky deficit with 34.5 seconds left. Over the final minutes, the Sky also missed five must-have free throws.

"I'm disappointed because that was a winnable game," Sky coach Steven Key said. "You can't expect to beat a team with two Olympians (Taurasi and Pondexter) when you give them wide-open jump shots."

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