BRADENTON, Fla. (AP) — Rookie of the year Crystal Dangerfield scored 15 of her 17 points in the second half and Minnesota beat Phoenix 80-79 on Thursday night to advance to the semifinals of the WNBA playoffs.
Damiris Dantas led Minnesota with 22 points although she missed a pair of free throws with 6.1 seconds left leaving Phoenix with the chance to pull off another last-second postseason victory. With no timeouts left, the Mercury got the ball up the court bur Skylar Diggins-Smith’s shot was off the mark at the buzzer.
Two nights earlier Shey Peddy made a buzzer-beating 3-pointer in an 85-84 win over Washington in a first-round victory.
The loss was the first in eight career single-elimination playoff games for Diana Taurasi, She had 28 points and nine assists to lead the Mercury.
Dangerfield was a big reason why that streak ended. She scored seven points in a 10-3 run to give Minnesota the lead for good, 74-67. Taurasi converted consecutive four-point plays to get the Mercury within one before Odyssey Sims’ basket made it 80-77 with 2:31 to go.
Sims finished with 14 points and Rachel Banham 11 for fourth-seeded Minnesota, which will play either No. 1 seed Las Vegas or No. 2 Seattle in a best-of-5 semifinal series that begins Sunday.
Minnesota’s 6-foot-6 Sylvia Fowles, the league’s all-time leading rebounder and 2017 league MVP, was playing for the first time after aggravating a right calf injury on Aug. 13. She played 18 minutes, scoring six points with four rebounds.
The Lynx made up a nine-point halftime deficit to head into the final period tied at 60-all.
Brianna Turner added 13 points and 14 rebounds and Kia Vaughn 10 points for the fifth-seeded Mercury.