By DAVID BRANDT
AP Sports Writer
PHOENIX (AP) — Diana Taurasi received a pass and in an instant, the shot was off her fingertips. It was a 3-pointer that splashed through the net, just like it has so many other times during her career.
Taurasi became the first WNBA player to score 10,000 points, hitting the mark with 8:23 remaining in the third quarter against the Atlanta Dream on Thursday night. After the shot, the crowd in Phoenix erupted in cheers and Taurasi’s teammates surrounded her in a circle, jumping up and down and celebrating.
The 41-year-old guard started the night needing 18 points to make it to 10,000.
“On behalf of the WNBA and basketball fans worldwide, I want to extend my heartfelt congratulations to Diana on reaching the incredible milestone of 10,000 points as she continues to author new chapters is an illustrious WNBA career.” WNBA Commissioner Cathy Engelbert said in a statement.
“Diana’s achievement stands as a testament to her skill, determination, and unwavering dedication to the game, which along with her competitive nature, has captivated fans with her incredible scoring ability, clutch performances, and unparalleled basketball IQ. We are honored to witness this milestone.”
Taurasi got her scoring started Thursday with a corner 3-pointer about two minutes into the game and then drove through the Atlanta defense for a layup a few minutes later. She had 10 points by halftime.
She was right back at it in the third quarter, hitting a layup on the Mercury’s first possession. Then she hit back-to-back 3-pointers — the last a 25-footer that got her to 10,000 points.
Taurasi has been the cornerstone of the Phoenix franchise since she was drafted first in 2004 out of UConn. She not only is the career regular-season scoring leader, but also holds that mark in the playoffs. She’s won three WNBA championships for the Mercury and was twice the MVP of the Finals.
Taurasi has averaged more than 19 points in her career, including a career-high 25.3 points in 2006. She is more than 2,500 points ahead of Tina Thompson, who is second on the scoring list with 7,488 points.