Comets 82


Mercury 80

(11-16, 6-7 home)

    7:00 PM ET, July 30, 2006

    1 2 3 4 T
    HOU 25 16 24 1782
    PHX 19 22 22 1780

    Top Performers

    Houston: M. Snow 16 Pts, 13 Reb, 1 Ast, 1 Stl, 1 Blk

    Phoenix: D. Taurasi 24 Pts, 5 Reb, 5 Ast, 1 Stl, 3 Blk

    Comets keep rising in West as Mercury plummet

    PHOENIX (AP) -- Astou Ndiaye-Diatta is enjoying the extended playing time while filling in for the injured Tina Thompson.

    Ndiaye-Diatta made a 10-footer off an offensive rebound in the lane with 4.1 seconds left to lift the Comets over the Phoenix Mercury 82-80 on Sunday night.

    "I'm out here having fun," Ndiaye-Diatta said. "I've been called in to replace Tina while she's hurt and I am taking advantage of the opportunity."

    Dawn Staley had 17 points and four assists to help Houston (16-12) win for the third time in four games. Michelle Snow added 16 points and Sheryl Swoopes had 13. Ndiaye-Diatta's winning bucket capped the Comets' 8-0 run over the final 2:57.

    "That's a miracle win, let's get that straight first," Houston coach Van Chancellor said. "Against a high-power basketball team, to come from behind and win like we did, and go on an 8-0 run and have the ball at the end with a chance to win, this is a season-making victory in my mind."

    The third-place Comets were a game out of second and a game ahead of fourth-place Seattle in the WNBA's Western Conference going into play Sunday.

    Diana Taurasi scored 24 points, but missed an off-balance shot at the buzzer as the Mercury (11-16) lost their fourth straight. Kelly Miller added 18 points.

    Taurasi's floater from the free-throw line gave the Mercury an 80-74 lead with 2:57 left, capping a 13-4 run.

    However, Tamecka Dixon hit a 14-footer and Snow later made a free throw and a layup to tie the score at 80 with 1:13 remaining.

    Phoenix turned the ball over with 48.5 seconds left and although Sheryl Swoopes missed a shot in the lane with the shot clock about to expire, Snow rebounded, missed a close shot and Ndiaye-Diatta rebounded to set up the winning shot.

    "We keep on hustling in practice, you have to rebound and go to the offensive rebound," Ndiaye-Diatta said of the winning play. "So we were just doing what we do in practice."

    The Mercury have lost five of six games decided by three points or fewer, including three in a row.

    "This was a little more bizarre than some of the others," Phoenix coach Paul Westhead said. "We had a couple of looks we didn't make. We always seem to run into a little misfortune at the end and in the middle of a play."

    Rookie Anatasia Kostaki hit a pair of 3-pointers in the second quarter for Houston, the second for a 35-26 advantage with 6:14 left.

    Phoenix then went on a 13-3 run, holding Houston to 1-for-9 shooting over the next 6 minutes. Swoopes hit a three with 5.7 seconds left to give Houston a 41-39 lead, but Cappie Pondexter hit a 17-footer with 0.2 seconds left to tie the score.

    Swoopes was held to two points in the second half. But Pondexter, the leagues third-leading scorer at 21 per game, made just 4 of 15 from the field for eight points.

    Thompson sat out her ninth game with a calf strain.

    Houston won for just the fifth time in 14 games on the road.

    "We're still not there yet but I think heading into the playoffs, were in a good place having been tested in close games, and having been able to pull some of these out," Staley said.

    Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press


    Team Stat Comparison

      Houston Phoenix
    Points 82 80
    FG Made-Attempted 32-69 (.000) 31-72 (.000)
    3P Made-Attempted 11-22 (.500) 8-24 (.333)
    FT Made-Attempted 7-12 (.000) 10-13 (.000)
    Rebounds (Offensive-Total) 14-42 9-31
    Assists 16 19
    Turnovers 12 8
    Steals 3 6
    Blocks 3 8
    Fast Break Points 0 9
    Fouls (Tech/Flagrant) 16 (0/0) 17 (0/0)