June 09, 2014

The Washington Mystics are surging up the Eastern Conference standings and the Phoenix Mercury are headed in the opposite direction in the Western Conference.

The two teams collide Friday night in Washington, D.C.

The Mystics have won three straight and five of six overall to even their record at 7-7. Coach Mike Thibault's team opened the season at 2-6 but has turned around in the past month and is .500 for the first time this season.

The Mystics are coming off an impressive 76-62 win over the Indiana Fever on Wednesday night. Guard Tayler Hill scored 16 points and all-star forward Emma Meesseman had 13 points and a career-high six steals.

Statistically, Washington still has plenty of room for improvement. The Mystics are eighth in the WNBA in points per game (81.7) and seventh in the points allowed (84.3).

But they're headed in the right direction, especially after the return of spark-plug guard Ivory Latta, who missed four early games. She is averaging 10.8 points in limited minutes off the bench.

The Mercury (4-9) have been an enigma to this point.

There were high expectations for the team, especially with the return of superstar Diana Taurasi. But Phoenix has not lived up the hype and enters the game having lost three straight.

Five players are averaging in double figures for the Mercury, led by Taurasi at 19.8 and DeWanna Bonner at 15.1.

Phoenix leads the WNBA in points per game at 86.8 but is last in points allowed (89.1) and 10th in rebounds and assists.

The Mercury have surrendered at least 100 points in back-to-back losses to Dallas, including in triple overtime at home last week.

The Mercury however, did defeat the Mystics 93-77 in their first meeting this season on May 29. Taurasi had 20 of her 28 points in the second half and Phoenix put away Washington in the fourth quarter. Bonner finished with 14 points and 11 rebounds.

The Mercury have won six of the last seven meetings with the Mystics.

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