WNBA

WNBA Playoffs 2021: Phoenix Mercury and Chicago Sky win, advance to next round in contrasting fashions

On the first day of the 2021 WNBA playoffs, the bottom four playoff teams participated in two single-eliminations games.

While one literally went down to the final second, the other was a relative no-contest which set-up another two exciting single-elimination games on Sunday (ET).

Phoenix Mercury win thriller over New York Liberty

After the scintillating back-and-forth action in the second half, in the end, Brianna Turner knocked down one of two free-throws with only 0.4 seconds remaining to lead Mercury, who suited up in this one without two-time Finals MVP Diana Taurasi, to the hard-fought victory.

With approximately 10 lead changes and over five ties, the second half of this game had WNBA Twitter buzzing.

In the end, the higher seed prevailed courtesy of a clutch performance from reserve guard Sophie Cunningham. In 21 minutes of action, the 6-foot-1 guard finished 21 points - 18 of which came in the second half with all of their six field goals coming from beyond the arc on incredible 6-of-7 shooting.

She also dished out two assists as Skylar Diggins-Smith scored a team-high 22 points while Britney Griner stuffed the stat sheet with 16 points, 10 rebounds, six assists and three blocks.

For the Liberty, it was the 2020 Most Improved Player winner Betnijah Laney that put on a show by scoring a game-high 25 points.

Meanwhile, No. 1 Draft pick of the 2020 Draft Sabrina Ionescu contributed across the board as he recorded 14 points, five rebounds and tied the WNBA record with 11 assists.

Phoenix, in their ninth consecutive postseason, now advance to the next round to play fourth-seeded Seattle Storm in a single-elimination game on Sunday for a place in the WNBA semifinals.

Chicago Sky breeze past Dallas Wings

The first of the two games on Thursday night (ET) was a relative no-contest as the Chicago Sky dominated and cruised to an 81-64 victory over the Dallas Wings.

They jumped to an early lead by outscoring the Wings 25-14 and lead by as many as 21 midway through the second quarter. However, Dallas fought back by outscoring them 21-11 in the third quarter and brought the deficit down to as few as five with 4:22 remaining on the game clock.

The Sky eventually came out on top by going on a game-winning 13-1 run over the final 4:22 minutes.

Kahleah Cooper scored a game-high 23 points on an incredible 10-of-14 shooting from the field while former Finals MVP Candace Parker did a little bit of everything despite having a rough shooting game as she finished with 11 points, 15 rebounds, seven assists and three steals.

For the Wings, Arike Ogunbowale top-scored with 22 points but she didn't receive much assistance as Satou Sabally was the only other double-digit scorer with 12.

The Sky will now face the third-seeded Minnesota Lynx in a single-elimination game on Sunday for a place in the WNBA semifinals.

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