September 16, 2020
How Shey Peddy’s buzzer-beater happened
After falling behind by double digits, the Mercury knock out the 2019 champs
Welcome to The Next: A basketball newsroom brought to you by The IX. 24/7/365 women’s basketball coverage, written, edited and photographed by our young, diverse staff, dedicated to breaking news, analysis, historical deep dives and projections about the game we love.
Subscribe to make sure this vital work, creating a pipeline of young, diverse media professionals to write, edit and photograph the great game, continues and grows. Subscriptions include some exclusive content, but the reason for subscriptions is a simple one: making sure our writers and editors creating 24/7/365 women’s basketball coverage get paid to do it.
PALMETTO, FL- SEPTEMBER 15: Diana Taurasi #3 of the Phoenix Mercury shoots the ball against the Washington Mystics on September 15, 2020 at Feld Entertainment Center in Palmetto, Florida. (NBA Content Network)
“We’ve got 10 minutes,” Phoenix Mercury head coach Sandy Brondello told her team as they headed into the fourth quarter against the defending champion Washington Mystics on Tuesday night. “Otherwise, we’re going home.”
They needed every last second and every last body.
Shey Peddy, the 31-year-old in just her second WNBA season, was cut by the Mystics earlier in the season. It was the third time in her career that she had been cut by a WNBA team. The Mercury, desperate for players as they battled injuries and other departures, picked her up on Aug. 19.
On Sept. 15, it made all the difference.
The defending champions came out looking like a team that wasn’t going to let things slip away so easily. They may not be the same team they were last season. They had to fight just to get the final playoff seed. But they still had their pride.
Washington ran out to a six-point lead in the first quarter. Phoenix fought back to tie it at 28, but the Mystics stretched it back out to 11 points at the end of the half.
The Mercury fought back again, playing the Mystics even in the third quarter. That still meant an 11-point deficit, though.
As their coach told them, they had 10 minutes to decide whether they would stay or they would go home. It didn’t look promising.
With just under a minute gone in the fourth, Myisha Hines-Allen launched a 3-pointer that put Washington up 73-61. The Mystics would not score again for more than five minutes.
In the meantime, the Mercury put together a 17-0 run that gave them the 78-73 lead with 4:23 to go in the game.
The Mystics had their own player looking for some redemption against her former team. Leilani Mitchell, who arrived in D.C. from Phoenix this season, didn’t let up all night, willing her team forward.
The guard put up 25 points against her former teammates. She didn’t give up even as she saw the lead slip away.
With just under a minute ago, Mitchell turned a Phoenix turnover into a 3-pointer that cut the Mercury’s lead to one. With 5.8 seconds to go, she hit one of two free throws to give her team a two-point lead.
It just wasn’t quite enough. With the clock expiring, Skylar Diggins-Smith found Peddy in the corner. Peddy pump-faked as Mitchell flew by her. Then, she let the shot fly.
Three-pointer good. Game over. Mercury advances.
“It was a fairy tale moment,” Peddy said.
It wasn’t supposed to be her shot. She usually isn’t even in the conversation when the team prepares for these scenarios in practice.
“I’m not on the court,” Peddy said. “I’m usually just on the side just watching the starters go in and do their thing. So Sandy has never run that play for me. But I’m pretty sure next practice I’ll be out there.”
She went onto the court expecting Diana Taurasi or Diggins-Smith to make the big play.
“The play call was for Kia (Vaughn) to come in and set the screen,” Diggins-Smith said. “I thought Emma (Meesseman) was going to go with her, but Emma stayed. And then Breezy (Turner) dove. When Breezy dove, Leilani stepped in front of Breezy and that left Shey open.”
With the 85-84 victory, the Mercury advance to face the Minnesota Lynx in the second round. How they got there will be something they all remember, especially Peddy.
“She’ll never forget that,” Brondello said. “I mean, how can you forget that? The girls are just loving on her, and so they should be.”