Kayla McBride scored 18 points, Jessica Shepard recorded a double-double of 15 points and 12 rebounds and the Minnesota Lynx scored a critical victory to its WNBA playoff hopes, winning 86-77 Wednesday over the host Phoenix Mercury.
Minnesota (14-20) completed the season sweep of Phoenix thanks to a big fourth quarter.
On a night that neither team led by more than seven points until the waning moments, and with the lead changing hands 20 times, the Lynx outscored the Mercury 23-9 over the final 7:33.
Five Lynx scored in double figures, including Sylvia Fowles, who shot 7-of-10 from the floor for 16 points. The starting frontcourt trio of Shepard, Fowles and Napheesa Collier went a combined 15-of-20 on field-goal attempts and paced Minnesota to a 38-27 rebounding advantage.
Fowles grabbed nine boards while Collier added five to go with her 11 points.
Aerial Powers came off the bench to score 14 points, including four straight in the final three minutes that pushed the Minnesota lead from two to six. The gap never slipped below three the rest of the way.
The Mercury (14-20) were without Skylar Diggins-Smith, who was out for personal reasons, and Diana Taurasi, sidelined with a quad injury. Sophie Cunningham picked up the scoring slack with a game-high 24 points, including 6-of-10 shooting from 3-point range.
Shey Peddy, who went 5-of-10 from beyond the arc, added 21 points. Megan Gustafson scored 15 points off the bench.
Minnesota’s win and Phoenix’s loss, combined with the New York Liberty’s 91-73 defeat of Dallas earlier in the night, forced a logjam of four teams with identical records in seventh through 10th place. Only two of those teams can advance to the postseason.
With Wednesday’s loss, Phoenix has dropped four of five heading into the final two games of the regular season. The Mercury close out with home games against Dallas and Chicago.
Minnesota wraps up at home against Seattle, then on the road at Connecticut.
–Field Level Media
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