PHOENIX – Diana Taurasi scored 31 points, including a 50-footer at the end of the third quarter, to lead the Phoenix Mercury to a 96-78 victory over the Minnesota Lynx on Tuesday night, putting the Mercury into the WNBA Finals.
Taurasi scored the first eight points of the fourth quarter to give Phoenix an 80-67 lead with 7:19 left. Minnesota had eliminated Phoenix in 2011 and 2013 en route to winning the league title.
The Mercury, which at 29-5 had the best record in the league in the regular season, awaits the winner of Wednesday’s Chicago-Indiana game in Indianapolis.
Minnesota missed its first 10 shots of the fourth quarter in Game 3 of the best-of-three series, falling behind 85-67.
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Seimone Augustus had 13 of her 21 points in the third quarter as the Lynx erased a 10-point deficit. The Lynx tied the score at 67 with 1:25 left in the third on Maya Moore’s layup.
Taurasi made a jumper to restore the advantage and then nailed the shot from 50 feet to give Phoenix a five-point lead after three quarters.
Taurasi improved to 7-0 in her career in winner-take-all games.
“There is no player in the world I would rather have on my team,” Mercury coach Sandy Brondello said.
Lindsay Whalen had 20 points, eight rebounds and six assists for Minnesota but missed four straight shots to start the fourth quarter. Moore had 16 points.
Brittney Griner collected 22 points, six rebounds and four assists for Phoenix.