Comets 64


Mercury 78

(17-17, 10-7 home)

    9:00 PM ET, September 19, 2004

    US Airways Center, Phoenix, AZ

    1 2 3 4 T
    HOU 27 37 64
    PHX 50 28 78

    Top Performers

    Houston: O. Blue 13 Pts, 2 Reb, 2 Ast

    Phoenix: A. DeForge 24 Pts, 3 Reb, 3 Ast, 2 Stl

    Taurasi finishes fourth in league scoring

    PHOENIX (AP) -- The Mercury's finale Sunday night had no effect on the playoff picture. Still, Phoenix's 17th win was hardly insignificant.

    The Mercury beat the Houston Comets 78-64 to finish 17-17 -- nine games better than their 8-26 record a year ago and their first non-losing season since 2000.

    "I would have liked it to have been a game to get into the playoffs but it was a great night for me and for everybody," said Plenette Pierson, who scored a season-high 24 points. "Everything was rolling for us and we just wanted to end the season with a win."

    Anna DeForge also scored 24, and Diana Taurasi added 14 points to finish fourth in the WNBA in scoring at 17.0 per game. She also had seven rebounds and six assists.

    "When our team has fun out there offensively, it makes a difference and perhaps it was a lesson for our youth," said Phoenix coach Carrie Graf. "There was no pressure tonight and they just went out there and played."

    Tina Thompson had 17 and Octavia Blue scored 13 to lead the Comets (13-21), who wrapped up their worst season ever and missed the playoffs for the first time in league history. The four-time WNBA champions were the only team to make the postseason in each of the league's first seven seasons.

    The Mercury were in fourth place on Sept. 9 with a 16-13 record, and looked primed for a playoff berth. Then came a four-game losing streak that allowed Sacramento to pass them for the final postseason spot.

    "I think it was good for us to end with a victory at home," said DeForge. "We lost a few tough ones which put us out of the playoffs. But definitely finishing .500, 17-17, is an improvement from last year. We just look to build on that in the future."

    Phoenix closed the half on a 17-2 run to take a 50-27 lead at the break. The Mercury's 50-point outburst was their best half of the season and the most points allowed by Houston in a half all year.

    "We played the game to its fullest," said Houston coach Van Chancellor. "At halftime we could have folded our tent and gotten beaten by 40. I'm proud of our team for not doing that."

    Houston ran off eight straight points to get within 68-59 with 3:38 left, but would get no closer.

    Houston committed 16 turnovers, leading to 21 Mercury points.

    The Comets played their last two games without second-leading scorer Sheryl Swoopes, who sprained her left ankle on Thursday against Sacramento.

    Houston finished the season on a three-game losing streak. They lost seven of their last eight and their last 10 on the road.

    Penny Taylor added 10 points and six rebounds for Phoenix, which swept the Comets for the first time in league history.

    Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press


    Team Stat Comparison

      Houston Phoenix
    Points 64 78
    FG Made-Attempted 21-49 (.000) 28-57 (.000)
    3P Made-Attempted 2-6 (.333) 6-16 (.375)
    FT Made-Attempted 20-26 (.000) 16-19 (.000)
    Rebounds (Offensive-Total) 8-24 9-27
    Assists 11 15
    Turnovers 15 11
    Steals 6 9
    Blocks 1 3
    Fast Break Points 4 5
    Fouls (Tech/Flagrant) 16 (0/0) 24 (0/0)