Mercury 91

(11-7, 6-4 away)

Liberty 84

(10-8, 6-4 home)

    7:00 PM ET, July 30, 2011

    Prudential Center, Newark, NJ

    1 2 3 4 T
    PHX 17 25 24 2591
    NY 19 17 29 1984

    Top Performers

    Phoenix: P. Taylor 29 Pts, 4 Reb, 3 Ast, 3 Stl

    New York: N. Powell 16 Pts, 4 Reb, 3 Ast, 6 Stl, 1 Blk

    Mercury-Liberty Preview


    Diana Taurasi has taken over the WNBA scoring lead with three consecutive solid performances, though none were enough to lead the Phoenix Mercury to a win.

    It may not get much easier Saturday night at Madison Square Garden against the New York Liberty, who have won six of their last seven home games.

    Taurasi overtook Chicago's Sylvia Fowles as the league's top scorer, improving her average to 20.4 points after scoring 27 in a 102-91 loss to San Antonio on Thursday. The veteran guard had 26 points Tuesday against Seattle and 24 on July 20 versus Minnesota -- both Mercury losses.

    Phoenix (10-7) has fallen out of first place in the Western Conference during its skid, dropping behind Minnesota and San Antonio. The Mercury began the season with three straight losses, then won 10 of 11 before their current slump.

    Taurasi was held to five points on 1-for-7 shooting in the most recent game against the Liberty, a 107-69 road loss Aug. 14. She averaged 25.0 points in the previous three meetings -- all Phoenix wins.

    New York's Cappie Pondexter scored a game-high 28 points in that August matchup and is among the league leaders this year with 17.4 per game.

    Pondexter scored 19 in a 75-71 victory over Washington on Thursday, helping the Liberty (10-7) win for the sixth time in eight games overall.

    Kia Vaughn, who added 14 points, put the Liberty ahead for good on a layup with 54 seconds remaining.

    Pondexter, whose team has won two straight and five of six at home, said the Liberty have seemed to hit a groove as they are in a close battle with Indiana and Connecticut for the top spot in the East.

    "We're starting to understand each other," she said. "That's the important thing going down the stretch in the second half. Believing in each other, staying focused will help us win for this organization."

    New York likely will need a solid defensive effort Saturday against Phoenix, which leads the WNBA in scoring with 91.7 points per game.

    The Mercury have four players who average in double figures -- Taurasi, Penny Taylor (15.5 points), Candice Dupree (14.4) and Kara Braxton (10.8) -- but so do the Liberty.

    Pondexter has scored in double figures in 14 straight games, while Plenette Pierson averages 13.3 points, Essence Carson adds 13.0 and Vaughn 12.1.

    New York averages just 79.9 points but gives up 77.7 per game, compared to a Phoenix team which allows a league-high 87.2.