NEWARK, N.J. – Candice Dupree and DeWanna Bonner each scored 18 points to help the Phoenix Mercury beat the New York Liberty 80-76 on Tuesday night.
Diana Taurasi added 17 points, nine assists and six rebounds for Phoenix (18-13), which is trying to lock down the third playoff spot in the Western Conference. The Mercury lead Seattle by three games and can clinch the third seed with one more win or a Storm loss. Seattle hosted Minnesota later Tuesday night.
The Mercury will visit Chicago before closing the regular season against San Antonio and Los Angeles.
While Phoenix is already in the postseason, New York (11-21) was eliminated from the playoff chase. This is only the second time in the past seven years that New York didn't make the postseason.
Katie Smith scored a season-high 17 points to lead the Liberty.
With the game tied at 69 midway through the fourth quarter, Phoenix went on a 9-3 run to take control. Taurasi started it with a jumper and capped it with a rebound and assist to Bonner for a 3-pointer that made it 78-72 with 2:16 left.
New York wouldn't go away as Kelsey Bone hit consecutive baskets to make it 78-76 with 30 seconds left.
Taurasi tried to seal the win with 9.3 seconds left, but her deep 3-pointer was off the rim giving New York one last chance.
Smith's inbounds pass was stolen by Briana Gilbreath and Taurasi hit two free throws to clinch it.
Phoenix will be without Taurasi for Wednesday night's nationally televised game as she picked up her ninth technical foul in the third quarter for flailing.
Under WNBA rules, a player or coach is automatically suspended without pay for one game upon receiving a seventh technical foul during the regular season. For every two additional technical fouls received during that regular season, the player or coach will be automatically suspended for an additional game.
That seemed to energize Phoenix which rallied behind Penny Taylor, who was playing in her second game since coming back from a right knee injury that sidelined her for 13 games. She scored 10 straight points for the Mercury, who led 62-61 after three quarters. Taylor finished with 12 points.
New York was without star Cappie Pondexter, who was sidelined with a knee contusion. Coach Bill Laimbeer said that the team will see how she's feeling as to whether she'll sit out the final two games of the season or not.
Tuesday night marked the last game at Newark for the Liberty. The team will head back to Madison Square Garden next season with the renovations there finished.
The Liberty honored Smith before the game. Smith announced earlier this year that she would retire at the end of the season. The 15-year veteran, who is the league's No. 2 all-time leading scorer, was given a framed USA basketball jersey, a collage of photos of her playing career among her gifts.
Smith kept the Liberty in the game early on scoring nine points in the first quarter. New York trailed by 34-24 midway through the second before rallying behind Alex Montgomery. Her consecutive 3s made it a one-point game.
Phoenix led 43-41 at the half behind 13 points from Bonner and 12 from Taurasi.
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