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May 19, 2024 12:55 am

Kahleah Copper erupts for 38 as Mercury put Dream to sleep

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Kahleah Copper scored a career-high 38 points, including 26 in the second half, to lead the Phoenix Mercury to an 88-85 victory over the visiting Atlanta Dream on Saturday night.

The victory is the first for new Mercury coach Nate Tibbetts, who was hired during the offseason after spending nearly two decades coaching in the NBA and G League.

Phoenix (1-1), coming off a season-opening loss against the host Las Vegas Aces on Tuesday, scored seven unanswered points to take an 86-83 lead with 38.7 seconds left in the game.

A 3-pointer by Sophie Cunningham and a driving layup by Copper capped the run.

Cheyenne Parker-Tyus made a hook shot to cut the Dream’s deficit to 86-85 with 35.7 seconds remaining.

Copper, who also finished with six rebounds, then made a layup with 20.6 seconds left. Atlanta’s Rhyne Howard missed a 3-point attempt with 6.6 seconds to go as the Mercury held on.

Atlanta went on an 18-2 run in the fourth quarter, with Allisha Gray scoring 10 of those points, to go up 78-72 with 4:11 remaining after trailing by as many as 12 in the first half.

Gray finished with 22 points and six boards, while Howard had 21 points and nine rebounds. Parker-Tyus added 18 points and six rebounds.

Copper scored 16 of her points in the third quarter, when Phoenix built an 11-point lead.

The Mercury did not trail until Atlanta went on its game-turning run in the fourth quarter. Phoenix was in front at 70-60 with 8:43 remaining in the fourth following a layup by Morgan Bertsch before the monster run by the Dream.

Copper had 12 first-half points to help the Mercury take a 43-37 edge into the break.

Diana Taurasi, playing in her 20th season in the WNBA, finished with 15 points and seven rebounds. She has spent her entire career with Phoenix.

–Field Level Media

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