WNBA's Phoenix Mercury starts title defense with close win

By Associated Press
Sunday, May 16, 2010; D08

Penny Taylor made two free throws with 1.5 seconds left to lift the defending WNBA champion Phoenix Mercury to a 78-77 victory over the visiting Los Angeles Sparks in the league's season opener Saturday.

Taylor caught the ensuing long inbounds pass and held the ball until the buzzer.

Noelle Quinn had hit a 12-foot bank shot with 4.7 seconds left to give the Sparks a 77-76 lead after Phoenix's Diana Taurasi made two free throws with 17.8 seconds remaining.

Taurasi scored five of her 14 points in the final five minutes, Candice Dupree had 17 points and 10 rebounds, and Taylor added 16 points.

Candace Parker scored 24 points for the Sparks, including a key basket in the final minute, and grabbed 12 rebounds.

Rookie Andrea Riley scored 16 points and DeLisha Milton-Jones had 10 for Los Angeles.

Phoenix opened up a 10-point lead in the third quarter, but Los Angeles ran off nine straight points to keep it close.

-- SUN 74, SKY 61: Tina Charles had 17 points and 10 rebounds in her pro debut as Connecticut opened its season with a home win over Chicago.

Charles, the national player of the year at U-Conn. and the top pick in the WNBA draft, had 15 points and nine rebounds at the half as the Sun built a 42-33 lead.

Sylvia Fowles led the Sky with 16 points and nine rebounds.

Connecticut started four players who were not on its roster at the end of last season, including Charles and her former college teammate Renee Montgomery.

Anete Jekabsone-Zogota was 4 of 6 from three-point range and led the Sun with 18 points. Kara Lawson added 10 points.

Connecticut led by as many as 19 in the fist half, before Fowles sparked an 11-0 run to cut the deficit to 38-30. The Sun broke off a 16-2 run in the third quarter and a 12-0 surge to open the fourth and put the game away.

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