On this day five years ago, the Phoenix Mercury made history.
The team won its 29th game of the 2014 regular season, a 78-65 road triumph over the Seattle Storm, thus setting a WNBA record for the most victories in a regular season.
Brittney Griner led all scorers with 18 points on 8-of-15 shooting, rounding out a double-double with 10 rebounds. Candice Dupree, Penny Taylor and Erin Phillips all chipped in double-figure scoring as well in the winning effort.
It was head coach Sandy Brondello’s first at the helm in Phoenix. She spent the 2010 season as the head coach of the San Antonio Silver Stars, going 14-20, and had otherwise served as an assistant in the league since 2005.
In 2014, she told The Arizona Republic’s Mark Moschetti what she believed led to her team’s marvelous regular season.
“I never look at wins and losses when I take over a team like that,” she explained. “It was more about getting the team together where I thought we needed to be (in order) to be successful. It was team chemistry. And it was buying into playing defense first and playing out of there on the offensive end, which is something new for this franchise. They bought in and really embraced what we wanted to do.”
Griner told Moschetti she saw the team’s success coming.
“Throughout the year, I could see it,” Griner told The Arizona Republic’s Mark Moschetti in 2014. “We just kept playing hard. We hate losing, and we just kept going every day … We grew and got better as the season progressed, so I definitely saw more wins coming our way.”
The 2014 Mercury would go on to defeat the No. 4 seeded Sparks in the first round of the WNBA Playoffs, 2-0, then knocked off No. 2 seed Minnesota Lynx in the Western Conference Finals, 2-1. Phoenix completed the job in the WNBA Finals, sweeping the No. 4 seed Chicago Sky, 3-0, as the exclamation point on the most prolific WNBA season of all time.