Last-second Griner block sends Mercury to WNBA Finals

Phoenix won an intense fifth game to advance to the finals for the first time since 2014

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Lorie Shaull

Brittney Griner scored a game-high 28 points, with nine rebounds and a clutch block, to help the Mercury defeat the Aces in the WNBA semifinals.

The Phoenix Mercury beat the Las Vegas Aces on Friday night to book their place in the WNBA Finals.

After the second-seeded Aces routed the fifth-seeded Mercury 93-76 in Game Four, the Mercury came back to take an instant classic, 87-84, in Las Vegas.

Phoenix started the game strongly, gaining an early first quarter lead. The Mercury held on to this lead for the entire first half and took a 44-42 advantage into the locker room.

Las Vegas started the second half on fire, embarking on a 14-0 run to start the third quarter. The Aces ended the third quarter with a 66-58 lead and seemed primed to advance to the Finals for a second consecutive season.

Mercury star Diana Taurasi — whose status was up in the air before tipoff — had a fourth quarter to remember, hitting back-to-back threes to key a 10-0 run for her team to begin the fourth quarter. 

After Aces coach Bill Laimbeer called a timeout, Las Vegas fought back to take a four-point lead with two minutes left.

The Mercury got a huge contribution from Shey Peddy, who hit two go-ahead free throws with 4.5 seconds left. Brittney Griner then blocked Aces star A’ja Wilson’s last-second shot to seal the game. 

“She’s just been so incredible for us all year for us,” Taurasi said about Griner. “We’ve asked her to do everything, play 40 minutes, defend the best player, help, block shots, score, rebound. She’s incredible.”

The Mercury will now face the Candace Parker and the Chicago Sky in the WNBA Finals, a rematch of the 2014 series. Game 1 tips off at Footprint Center on Sunday, Oct. 10, at 12 p.m. local time.