Skylar Diggins-Smith seals Game 2 victory as Phoenix Mercury even series with Chicago Sky

PHOENIX -- With the Phoenix Mercury holding a three point lead in overtime, Skyler Diggins Smith glanced at Diana Taurasi and was ready to pass the ball to her partner. Taurasi looked up and said, "Keep it."
Diggins-Smith had everything she needed.

With 12.8 seconds remaining in overtime, she drove to the basket and scored a layup. The Mercury had a five-point advantage in Game 2, winning 91-86. It evened out the series with Chicago Sky, who will host next two games. Game 3 will be Friday (9 p.m. ET, ESPN2/ESPN App

Diggins-Smith shot 5-for-18 on Wednesday from the field. "I missed some makeable layups but I knew that I would have another shot and my team also told me that: "Just keep going, keep trying aggressively, get downhill, keep going."

Diggins-Smith had 13 points, 12 assists, and seven rebounds. This was a crucial game for the Mercury. If they had lost, they would have been heading to Chicago's sold-out Wintrust Arena down 2-0. They fought back to force an extra session, and then performed better than the Sky in overtime.

With 29 points and nine rebounding, Center Brittney Griner was Wednesday's star for the Mercury. Taurasi struggled to find her offensive at times, but she eventually became money late, scoring 20 points. Sophie Cunningham, who was out with a calf strain after being injured in Game 3 of semifinals, returned to play with nine points, five boards, and her usual radiant energy. Brianna Turner was at the heart of defense and Shey Perddy scored 10 points from the bench.

Diggins-Smith played a key role in bringing the 13,685 Mercury fans home from Footprint Center happy. She wanted to visit the Mercury for games such as this, her second season in Phoenix.

Skylar Diggins Smith had four assists during the fourth period, and Phoenix scored four of its 12 points in overtime. The Mercury won the WNBA Finals with 13 points, 12 assists, and 7 rebounds. Christian Petersen/Getty Images

Skylar would likely say, "I've missed too much shots," but I think with her ability as a facilitator and just giving us some easy baskets, we needed that," Mercury coach Sandy Brondello stated. "It isn't very often that you see Diana with zero [assists], however, that's what makes them complement each other.

"Dee is a good 3-point shooter and scorer. She's also a great passer. But, Chicago put a lot pressure on her. We made her more efficient as a screener and gave Sky more control. She made some very good decisions.

Diggins-Smith has been doing this for a while, dating back to her time growing up in South Bend and playing for Notre Dame. She won't fare well from Chicago when the Finals return on Friday. She brought the Irish swagger, and she brought the Mercury extra intensity.

Taurasi stated, "I've been in this game for a while and there aren't too many people who compete the way Skylar does every day." "We have had the opportunity to train together for two offseasons. Every day is different. Each day is Game 5 for her.

"That kind of ignited my passion about the game a bit. Skylar took the game to another level today by doing what she did. She was a great player and made the game impactful every possession. It's probably the best game I've ever witnessed her play.

Diggins-Smith won her first Olympic gold medal and made her first Olympic team earlier this year. Now she will be competing in her first WNBA Finals. In August, she turned 31. She was there for the Summer Games in Tokyo.

Diggins-Smith stated that it is important to "separate a bit" when considering the joys and challenges this season and the Olympics. You keep your eyes on the task at hand, asking yourself: "What can I do today?"

"I understand that I can help this team but it doesn't mean I have to score 20 points. Other things I can do include going after 50/50 balls and getting in the lane to create opportunities. These are the things that make a difference in games such as this.

Diggins-Smith laughed at the idea of her "edge", which she constantly competes against, and stated that it was out of necessity. It's exactly what Mercury needed.

She said, "I'm 5-9 years old and weigh 145 pounds. If I didn't play with a damn advantage, I wouldn't have been here." "That's my competitive nature bursting out; I just love the game.


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