Tina Charles had 22 points and 11 rebounds and four teammates also scored in double figures as the host Phoenix Mercury pulled away from the short-handed Seattle Storm 97-77 on Wednesday night.
Skylar Diggins-Smith scored 19, Diana Taurasi had 15, Diamond DeShields added 12 and Shey Peddy contributed 10 for the Mercury (1-1).
Jewell Loyd scored 26, Sue Bird had 14 and Ezi Magbegor added 11 for Seattle (1-2). The Storm announced before the game that two of their top players — Breanna Stewart and Epiphanny Prince — would sit out because of COVID-19 health and safety protocol.
Taurasi’s 3-pointer started the third-quarter scoring and increased the Mercury’s lead to 42-31.
Charles scored seven consecutive points as Phoenix built a 58-42 lead before Loyd answered with a three-point play.
The lead reached 16 on a basket by DeShields before Seattle scored eight straight points to get within 58-50.
Phoenix increased the lead to 10 points twice before Bird’s 3-pointer reduced the margin to 62-57.
The Storm got within five once more before Charles beat the buzzer with a 3-pointer that gave the Mercury a 71-63 lead at the end of the third period.
Peddy’s 3-pointer pushed the lead to 11 before Seattle twice got within seven points.
But a basket by DeShields and a 3-pointer by Taurasi pushed the lead to 81-69 midway through the fourth quarter.
The score was tied once and the lead changed hands six times, the last coming when Loyd beat the buzzer with a 3-pointer that gave the Storm an 18-16 lead at the end of the first quarter.
The tightness continued into the early part of the second quarter as the score was tied twice and the lead changed hands three times.
Loyd’s 3-pointer broke the final tie and gave Seattle its last lead at 29-26 with a little over five minutes left in the first half.
Phoenix regained the lead on Charles’ 3-pointer and Diggins-Smith scored the final six points of a closing 13-2 run that gave the Mercury a 39-31 halftime lead.
–Field Level Media