Chicago Sky and Wilmington’s Tamera Young now down by two games in WNBA Finals

PHOENIX (AP) – Brittney Griner shook off two blows to the face to finish with 19 points, Diana Taurasi added 18 and the Phoenix Mercury made it two straight routs in the WNBA Finals with a 97-68 win over the Chicago Sky on Tuesday night.

The underdog Sky were far more aggressive after being blown out in Game 1, fighting Phoenix for every inch early on while leaving Griner with a scratch on her eye and a bloody mouth.

Griner and her teammates shrugged it off, running away from Chicago with a 15-2 run in the second quarter and grabbing a firm hold on the best-of-five series.

Game 3 is Friday in Chicago, where the Sky will have to find some way of slowing the rising Mercury, who shot 56 percent.

Elena Delle Donne led the Sky with 22 points after playing 11 minutes in Game 1 due to lower-back pain.

DeWanna Bonner had 15 points for Phoenix, and Penny Taylor scored 14. Griner blocked four shots after setting a finals record with eight in the opener.

Game 1 was a blowout from the opening tip, the Mercury racing out to a 22-point halftime lead as Griner swatted Chicago’s shots and Phoenix shot a finals-record 58 percent.

The Sky were much more aggressive at the start of Game 2, pressuring the Mercury into mistakes and tough shots while taking their first lead of the series.

Even better news for Chicago, Delle Donne’s cranky back appeared to be in decent shape. Last season’s WNBA Rookie of the Year moved freely and had 12 points in the first half.

Griner got the worst of the Sky’s physical play midway through the first quarter, when Sylvia Fowles inadvertently hit her on the right eye while fighting for a rebound.

Griner lay on the floor for several seconds and appeared to have trouble seeing before going to the bench with a scratch across her eyelid.

She returned to the game, but got hit again late in the second quarter, this time an elbow to the mouth by Fowles.

Griner spit blood behind the basket, hit two free throws and dropped in another shot at the rim on Phoenix’s next possession.

While Griner was getting beat up, Taurasi put on a show.

She hit a long 3-pointer and scored on a three-point play during the 15-2 run, and then added another 3 from the corner for 13 points in the quarter. Taurasi had 16 in the half and Phoenix led 51-36 after Erin Phillips scored on a three-point play in transition with 0.5 seconds left.

So much for Chicago’s extra effort.

The Sky never recovered from Phoenix’s big run, trailing by 15 or more most of the second half to fall into a huge hole in the series.

(Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

Note: Wilmington’s Tamera Young scored 2 points on Tuesday in 22 minutes of action.

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WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — Follow our sports on Twitter at @WWAYSports

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WILMINGTON, NC (UNCW) — Head Coach Adell Harris and the UNCW women’s basketball team will be playing at Trask Coliseum early and often during the upcoming 2014-15 season, including serving as hosts for a pair of holiday tournaments in late November and December.

The Seahawks have a 29-game slate overall and the ledger features 17 home dates and 12 road contests in Harris’ third season with the club. The favorable home ledger doesn’t bother Harris one bit.

“We’re really excited about our schedule,” said Harris. “We have nine tests at home to get ready for the conference schedule. We really wanted to place an emphasis on playing on our home court and having some pride here at Trask Coliseum. Learning how to win at home is very key with our young team.”

The Seahawks tune up for the regular season with an exhibition game on Saturday, Nov. 8, against Mount Olive. The contest with the Trojans is the first game of an exhibition doubleheader that has the men’s team battling Catawba later in the day.

UNCW officially opens the new season on Sunday, Nov. 16, against UNC Pembroke and then takes on longtime rival Campbell Nov. 19 before embarking on its first road trip to Appalachian State on Nov. 22.

Harris and her team then stage the UNCW Thanksgiving Classic Nov. 28-29 at Trask Coliseum. The Seahawks will be joined by North Florida, Eastern Kentucky and Western Carolina in the round-robin event. UNCW plays UNF the first day and then tips off against the Catamounts on the second day.

The Thanksgiving tourney kicks off a six-game homestand for the Seahawks. The team also remains at home for the UNCW Christmas Classic Dec. 19-20, with East Tennessee State, Jacksonville State and Charleston Southern visiting the Port City. The Seahawks meet ETSU on Friday, Dec. 19, before battling CSU on Saturday, Dec. 20.

“The holiday tournaments are something we really wanted to do and want to continue to do for the families and friends of our players. It’s a great opportunity for them to come down and see two games.”

Harris and her team entertain former CAA rivals VCU and Richmond on Dec. 2 and Dec. 17 before closing out the non-conference schedule with a late-December trip to the Sunshine State, where they face Florida Atlantic (Dec. 29) and Stetson (Dec. 31).

The Seahawks begin their CAA slate on Sunday, Jan. 4, when William & Mary visits Trask Coliseum. Harris’ team then tackles its first conference road game of the year on Jan. 6 at defending champion James Madison.

UNCW plays four of its first six conference games on the road, but the schedule evens out down the stretch when the Seahawks play four of their final six outings on their home floor.

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