July 23, 2009
AUBURN - Former Auburn women's basketball standouts, DeWanna Bonner (2005-09) and Le'Coe Willingham (1999-2004), finished off the first half of the season this week by helping lead the Phoenix Mercury into the All-Star break with the best record in the WNBA's Western Conference.
The Mercury are now 12-5 overall after a 1-1 week. They ran their winning streak to six games with a 97-90 win at home over Detroit on Saturday. Phoenix, however, was unable to match the franchise record of seven consecutive wins, falling at home to Minnesota, 99-86, on Wednesday.
In the win, Bonner tallied nine points, six rebounds and three steals. She followed that performance up with her fourth double-double of the year, scoring 15 points and collecting 10 rebounds. The four double-doubles are tied for second in the league and first among rookies, as no other rookie has recorded one.
The Birmingham native is now averaging 11.7 points per game and a team-high 6.2 rebounds per game. She now ranks 30th in the league in scoring and 16th in rebounding. She ranks first among rookies in both categories.
Bonner also added another honor to her successful rookie season, being named the `best rookie of the first half' on WNBA.com in its mid-season awards.
Willingham had a big night in the win over Detroit by scoring 22 points and pulling down seven rebounds. In Wednesday's loss, the Augusta, Ga. native had four points and three rebounds.
Willingham ran her averages to 10.9 points per game and 3.9 rebounds per game with the big week. She is now in the top 50 in the league in both categories, ranking 39th in scoring and 49th in rebounding.
The Mercury will head to the all-star break with a one-game lead over the Seattle Storm in the Western Conference standings. The WNBA All-Star game will be held at 2:30 p.m., Saturday at Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Connecticut. The game will feature Phoenix Mercury teammates, Diana Taurasi and Cappie Pondexter, and can be seen on ABC.
After the all-star break, Phoenix will hit the road for a pair of contests versus eastern conference foes. Sunday, they will take on the New York Liberty in Madison Square Garden at 3 p.m. The Mercury will then travel back to the site of the All-Star game to battle the Connecticut Sun. That game will tip off at 6:30 p.m. and can be seen nationally on ESPN2.
Phoenix will wrap up its east-coast swing at 6:30 p.m., Thursday as Bonner and Willingham come home for a game against the Atlanta Dream at Phillips Arena. Tickets start at $10 for the game.