May 26, 2023 

Diana Taurasi makes history in Mercury victory

Diana Taurasi became the oldest player in WNBA history to score 20 or more points in a game

PHOENIX – It was a historic night for Diana Taurasi as she led the Phoenix Mercury (1-2) to their first victory of the season, 90-81, over the Minnesota Lynx (0-3).

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Taurasi, who struggled in the team’s first two games this year, looked at least close to her usual self on Thursday, scoring 23 points on 5-for-12 shooting, 4-for-9 from 3-point range and 9-for-10 from the free throw line. She became the oldest player to have at least 20 points in WNBA history at 40 years and 348 days.

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Taurasi added 10 assists in the game to complete the double-double. She tied New York Liberty guard Courtney Vandersloot for No. 1 in WNBA history in 20-point, 10-assist games. She also had three rebounds and a steal. While her defensive effort could still improve, her rhythm on offense returned in the game. She had her legs back on her jump shot which seemed to be an issue for the guard in the team’s first two games.

Taurasi discussed how she is still able to play at this high a level at her advanced age.

“I mean, there’s no special secret formula,” Taurasi said. “You just got to show up every day and work —even the days you don’t want to show up. Coach (Vanessa Nygaard) has seen me the last two years where, you know, it’s not always easy. But you just stick with it, right? You keep coming back and our whole focus this year is, how do we make this team better? And after the first two losses, I feel like I wasn’t making the team better in a lot of ways. So I just made a concerted effort tonight on making sure that, number one is we all have to be able to play. I think that’s when basketball is at its core the most fun and when you can have the most success. So, it was nice, like Coach said, to get our first win.”

Mercury forward Sophie Cunningham spoke on Taurasi breaking another record.

“She’s a dinosaur, so of course she’s going to be the oldest one to break all the records now,” Cunningham said. “But it’s Diana, she’s a phenomenal player. The way she thinks is outstanding and she makes everyone else around her better. For her to still be playing at this level with how old she is, is literally insane.”

It was not all Taurasi helping Phoenix win Thursday. Four other Mercury players joined Taurasi in double figures on Thursday. Cunningham had 13 points, center Brittney Griner had 19 points, guard Moriah Jefferson had 13 points and guard Sug Sutton had a career-high 14 points. Sutton continues to dazzle with her speed and ability to finish. Thursday’s performance was her third of the season in double figures. She had played just 12 games in her WNBA career coming into 2023, averaging just 4.1 points per game.

Nygaard discussed the collective effort by the team after the game.

“I think that’s the goal of a team, right?” Nygaard said. “Team basketball. We’re balanced in scoring. It’s about everybody contributing. Having five players in double figures tonight and just a lot of contributions from a lot of different people makes us much more difficult to guard. It’s not just one player on a team — we have a lot of great weapons. So, when we play like this and we share the ball like this, we’re a pretty tough team.”

It was not all sunshine and rainbows for the Mercury on Thursday as they had 18 turnovers. They have had at least 18 turnovers in each of their three games so far this season. They also had 25 fouls with Cunningham fouling out.

The Mercury will not play again until June 2 when they face the Los Angeles Sparks at home at 10 p.m. ET / 7 p.m. PT. This will be their third meeting with the Sparks already this season as they faced Los Angeles in their final preseason game and first regular season game, a 94-71 loss.

Written by Jesse Morrison

Jesse Morrison covers the Phoenix Mercury for The Next. A native of Roanoke, Va., Jesse moved to Arizona in 2017 to attend the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University, graduating in 2021 with a degree in sports journalism. Outside of The Next, Jesse works for Arizona Sports, co-hosting an Arizona State podcast, producing a radio show and writing for their website.

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