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SPORTS

Kahleah Copper Scores 37 Points, Mercury Hand Aces First Loss 98-88

LAS VEGAS (AP) — Kahleah Copper scored 37 points and the Phoenix Mercury handed the two-time defending champion Las Vegas Aces their first loss of the season 98-88 on Tuesday night.

Copper, who had a career-high 38 points in her last game, had 14 in the fourth quarter, none bigger than her driving layup with 42 seconds to play. The Aces, down 15 with 5 1/2 minutes to play, had pulled within 90-88 on Kelsey Plum’s seventh 3-pointer seconds earlier.

Copper added a steal and a layup and Natasha Cloud and Sophie Cunningham both had a pair of free throws as the Mercury scored the last eight points of the game that had 14 lead changes through three quarters.

Sug Sutton added 12 points and Cloud 11 for the Mercury (2-1), who were 16 of 33 on 3-pointers, five by Copper. The Mercury, playing which without Brittney Griner since she broke a toe in training camp, lost 89-80 in their season opener at Las Vegas.

Plum had 27 points for the Aces (2-1), Jackie Young added 23 and A’ja Wilson 21 with 13 rebounds.

When Copper hit her fourth 3-pointer without a miss she had 16 points and the Mercury had a 22-12 lead less than six minutes into the game. But Young led the charge back for the Aces, scoring 10 in the first quarter as Las Vegas closed to within 25-20.

By halftime Young had 19 and the Aces were up 47-46 after five ties and 11 lead changes. Copper had 20 for Phoenix, which got 15 points off its bench to none for Las Vegas. The bench difference ended up 27-2.

Plum opened the second half with back-to-back 3-pointers for a 53-46 lead but the Mercury’s first three hoops after the break were 3s and they had seven in the third quarters to take a 73-68 lead.

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