SEATTLE – The end of the game — and the Seattle Storm’s bid to repeat as WNBA champion — came swiftly. Brutally even.
This wasn’t how the season was supposed to end. Not with the core of last year’s team returning and not with Phoenix star Diana Taurasi, the league’s scoring leader, on the bench for the final six minutes of Monday’s hard-fought Western Conference semifinal.
Seattle’s Sue Bird tied the score with a running midrange jumper with 14 seconds remaining and Seattle stopped Penny Taylor’s running layup on the next possession.
However, Mercury forward Candice Dupree secured the rebound and made a short jumper with 1.9 seconds remaining to give Phoenix a 77-75 victory in Game 3 of the Western Conference playoffs.
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Without a timeout, Bird tried to rush the ball upcourt but the Storm never got up a shot as time expired and the crowd of 8,589 at KeyArena went silent as Seattle’s season ended.
The Storm lost in the opening round of the playoffs for the sixth time in seven years.
This defeat was unexpected considering Seattle dominated at home this season, winning 16 of 17 games. The Storm also controlled the series before losing the final two games.
Bird finished with 22 points on 9-for-17 shooting. Lauren Jackson had 18 points and Tanisha Wright had 17 for the Storm.
Dupree, the star of the series, scored 20 after scoring 29 on Saturday. Taylor and Taurasi each scored 19.
Seattle was unable to survive a physical game in which Taurasi and Storm forward Camille Little fouled out with more than six minutes remaining.
Seattle led by as many as 18 points early in the game.