SEATTLE (AP) — Brittney Griner isn’t surprised by the Phoenix Mercury’s success this season. Not even her team’s record-setting 29 wins.
Griner had 18 points and 10 rebounds as the Mercury beat the Seattle Storm 78-65 in the season final Sunday night, setting a new WNBA mark for victories.
Candice Dupree added 16 points to help Phoenix (29-5) top the previous record shared by Los Angeles (28-4 in both 2000 and 2001) and Seattle (28-6 in 2010). Penny Taylor and Erin Phillips had 11 points apiece.
“Throughout the year, I could see it,” Griner said. “We just kept playing hard. We hate losing, and we just kept going every day. … We grew and got better as the season progressed, so I definitely saw more wins coming our way.”
First-year Mercury coach Sandy Brondello said switching the team’s mindset from offense to defense was instrumental in setting the record — one she said she didn’t necessarily expect.
“I never look at wins and losses when I take over a team like that. It was more about getting the team together where I thought we needed to be (in order) to be successful,” Brondello said. “It was team chemistry. And it was buying into playing defense first and playing out of there on the offensive end, which is something new for this franchise.
“They bought in and really embraced what we wanted to do.”
The Mercury, who have home-court advantage throughout the playoffs, will host Los Angeles in Game 1 of the Western Conference semifinals on Friday. Phoenix won all five regular-season games against the Sparks, and also beat them in three games in last year’s West semifinals.