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Sunday, Oct. 11, 2009

Mercury win second WNBA title

PHOENIX (AP) The core of the dynamic Phoenix Mercury is a trio as talented as any in the game.

No wonder they win WNBA championships.

Diana Taurasi, Cappie Pondexter and Penny Taylor — who led the team to its 2007 title — did it again in 2009, when the Mercury held off a late rally by the tenacious Indiana Fever for a 94-86 victory in the deciding Game 5 Friday night.

League and finals MVP Taurasi scored 26 points, Pondexter had 24, and Taylor made two crucial free throws with 37.7 seconds left for the Mercury, who won the last two games to take the intense series 3-2.

"This is what we do, we make big plays," Taurasi said, holding a towel over her head in the champagne-drenched locker room. "We have people that step up and love to live the moment. It's a great team, great team."

When it was over, the three hugged in elation, and Taylor — the Australian who joined the team Aug. 1 after reconstructive ankle surgery — broke down in tears.

"I was only here from half the season but it was a long half and it's been a hard half," she said. "Just the build up of that emotion of wanting to do so well, and wanting to do well for your teammates, wanting to win every game and it's just a release right now that we have been able to do it,"

Tammy Sutton-Brown scored 22 points, and Jessica Davenport had a career-high 18 for Indiana in its first WNBA Finals appearance. Tamika Catchings added 16 points and nine rebounds.

"I thought we played about as well as we could play," Fever coach Lin Dunn said.

Phoenix won it with the super-speed style that then-coach Paul Westhead used in 2007 and Corey Gaines, who played for the JBL's Japan Energy (1997-98), adopted when he took over the following season.

"When I first started coaching in the WNBA Coach Westhead, who is my mentor — who we owe this championship to as much as him being here right now — he told me, 'We're going to coach the players as players, not women, ball players' " said Gaines, whose mother is half-Japanese.

"And it's funny how they embraced it because they enjoyed being treated that way. Instead of being treated as women basketball players, we treat them as ball players."



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