WNBA

Mercury-Storm Preview

The Phoenix Mercury captured their first season series from the Seattle Storm in five years last season, and did it in emphatic fashion.

The Mercury won all five matchups a year ago and these Western Conference rivals meet four times this year, beginning with Sunday's contest in Seattle.

This series has been streaky, with Phoenix (2-3) going 5-0 last year after Seattle took the previous five matchups.

The nature of this rivalry has changed since former University of Connecticut teammates Diana Taurasi and Sue Bird won't square off with Taurasi's decision to skip the season. This marks the sixth contest of Brittney Griner's seven-game suspension for a domestic violence incident.

The star power is being provided now by DeWanna Bonner, who is second in the league with 19.6 points per game despite 34.1 percent shooting. She fouled out with 21 points and nine rebounds in Friday's 90-78 double-overtime loss to Connecticut that snapped the Mercury's 22-game home win streak.

"She's carried us and she will carry us all season long, her role won't change when BG comes back, it'll actually make it a little easier for her," coach Sandy Brondello said. "But she's got that ability to score and also play great defense."

Seattle (2-3) is averaging 63.8 points for one of the league's lowest marks and those woes surfaced in Tuesday's 79-58 loss to Connecticut. The Storm shot 39.6 percent, marking the fourth straight game under 40 since a season-opening 51.6 percent mark in an 86-61 rout of Los Angeles on June 6.

"The way our team plays, everything we do is done as a team and we weren't moving well without the ball," coach Jenny Boucek told the Storm's official website. "We weren't available for each other the way that we need to. We weren't quick enough."

Crystal Langhorne is the only player averaging double figures in points at 10.0. Rookies Jewell Loyd and Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis have struggled to shoot 24.5 percent and 38.5, respectively.

Phoenix will have little sympathy after committing a season-high 23 turnovers Friday. The Mercury averaged 11.8 through four games.

"The beauty of it, we have a game Sunday in Seattle and we have to make sure we bring our best effort and learn from our mistakes tonight," Brondello said.

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