Victoria Vivians broke a cold streak from beyond the arc by making two threes in the fourth quarter and she and Kelsey Mitchell made key baskets that allowed the Indiana Fever to nearly come back against the Phoenix Mercury on Monday night at Indiana Farmers Coliseum in Indianapolis, but a Brianna Turner layup with 16 seconds to go allowed the Mercury to hold on for an 86-81 win — their ninth in a row.
Brittney Griner led Phoenix (18-10) with 21 points and 10 rebounds and also recorded two blocks. Kia Nurse (3-of-5 from deep and 7-of-9 from the field) added 19 points, Diana Taurasi had 11 and six assists and Turner finished with eight, seven boards and three helpers.
Teaira McCowan posted 13 points, 15 rebounds and two blocks in defeat while K. Mitchell (two steals) had 23 points, including a three that cut it to four with 3:02 remaining and a reverse layup that cut it to three with 47 ticks to go. Lindsay Allen notched a career-high 15 points to go along with seven assists.
The Fever (6-21) trailed by just one at halftime after leading by four at halftime against the Mercury on Saturday. But they lost the third quarter 36-9 en route to an 87-65 loss on Saturday and lost the third 24-10 on Monday.
Phoenix was an efficient 8-of-16 from distance as a team.
The Mercury had already clinched the playoffs, but can still mathematically play for the No. 2 seed, which would give them a double bye, and are only a half a game behind the Seattle Storm for the fourth and final single bye.
“At the moment, obviously I’m looking at it, it’d be nice to be able to get up there to be quite honest,” said Mercury head coach Sandy Brondello. “But for us, we just gotta make sure, we can’t look too far ahead because these games like this can come back and bite you on the butt. And we have to grind it out, we have to grind wins out. We gotta keep handling adversity in a game and momentum changes and making sure that we’re building up to where we want to be, at our best in the playoffs. But yeah, one game at a time approach. It’d be nice if Indiana could play like that and beat Minnesota for us. … If we get some help from other teams, great. Where we stand in the playoffs, it is what it is, and we just gotta come ready to play.”