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Mercury rising for an oncoming Storm

OPALS' Rio Olympian Stephanie Talbot manufactured a huge 3-pointer yesterday to help Phoenix Mercury again knock Connecticut Sun out of the WNBL playoffs.

The Mercury have been rolling since Talbot, who will play WNBL with Melbourne Boomers in 2018-19 and has been named in Australia's team for the 2018 FIBA Women's World Cup, was introduced into the starting quintet by Opals and Phoenix coach Sandy Brondello nine games ago.

Down 81-84 with three minutes to go and in its second "one-and-done" KO playoff game of the week, Phoenix needed something special.

But Katherine-born, Kadina-raised and Forestville-developed Talbot, having airballed a previous open three, showed the courage of a champ to swish a long-range missile from left of the top of the keyway.

That tied the game and ignited a devastating 9-0 run by the Mercury.

Led by perennial superstar Diana Taurasi - is she the female equivalent of Kobe Bryant? - and star 6-9 centre Brittney Griner, Phoenix motored home to set up its best-of-five semi final series against first-placed Seattle Storm.

“We just played really gutsy today,” Taurasi said.

“We didn’t play great, but we found a way to win.”

Taurasi and Griner had 27 points apiece, Talbot with seven points, six rebounds and five assists.

Talbot's fellow Rio Olympian and FIBA World Cup playmaker Leilani Mitchell played the last four minutes of the first half, when Phoenix needed a steadying hand.

Connecticut Sun's super-scoring off-guard Courtney Williams had a purple patch late to also finish with 27 points, showing the confidence and poise of her 2017-18 WNBL season with Perth Lynx.

Elena Delle Donne had 19 points and 12 rebounds as her Washington Mystics thumped the Los Angeles Sparks 96-64 to also advance to the semis against Atlanta Dream.

Phoenix starts its semi final campaign in Seattle at 7am on Monday (AEST).

Aug 25

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