Comets singe Mercury despite Taurasi's 41 points

HOUSTON (AP) -- Dawn Staley scored a season-high 21 points and the Houston Comets overcame Diana Taurasi's 41 points to beat the Phoenix Mercury 98-95 on Thursday night.

Sheryl Swoopes added 19 and Tari Phillips came off the bench and scored a season-high 15 points as the Comets won the season's first meeting with Phoenix.

Taurasi tied the highest-scoring game in the WNBA this season and Cappie Pondexter added 29 for the Mercury, who lost their second straight game after winning three of four overall.

Lisa Leslie of Los Angeles scored 41 against San Antonio on June 26.

Taurasi became the first player to score more than 32 points against Houston in the 10-year history of the franchise. She was 14-for-28 from the field with five 3-pointers.

"They were playing zone tonight and I think our coaches really prepared us for what we were going to see," Staley said. "We were ready. We knew we were going to get open shots and all we had to do was knock them down."

Brandi Reed had the previous highest-scoring game against the Comets, getting 32 in 2001.

"We played hard and stuck in there," Taurasi said. "They played a good game and made every big shot. But we still came up a little short and that is what we have to fix."

The Comets led by 12 at halftime and extended their lead to as many as 17 points early in the fourth quarter before the Mercury got back in the game.

Belinda Snell, who scored a season-high 12 points, capped a 13-0 run for the Mercury with a 3-pointer with 2:34 left in the game, giving Phoenix its first lead since making the first basket of the game.

But the Comets took the lead for good, 96-95, with 23.8 seconds left when Michelle Snow made a 12-foot fadeaway.

"The important thing tonight is that we held on," Snow said. "Everyone played well and we all contributed. Everyone stepped up and we played like a team. We never backed down."

Tamecka Dixon made a pair of free throws with 3.1 seconds remaining to make it 98-95 and her defense on Pondexter kept the Mercury from getting off a shot in the closing seconds.

"We got down and we just didn't have anything to lose," Pondexter said. "We were in striking distance and Diana was carrying us. In the fourth quarter, everyone else started to pick it up."