Bria Hartley out for the year with an ACL injury

Mercury guard was injured on Aug. 28 against the Mystics

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Orlando, FL- AUGUST 23: Bria Hartley #14 of the Phoenix Mercury shoots the ball against the Washington Mystics on August 23, 2020, at the Feld Entertainment Center in Palmetto, Florida. Copyright 2020 NBAE (Photo by Stephen Gosling/NBAE via GettyImages)

It’s been a trying season for the Phoenix Mercury as they deal with roster instability due to injury, COVID-19, and personal issues, but perhaps none of their players has felt it more than Bria Hartley. On her way to what looked like a sure Most Improved Player or Sixth Player of the Year award, Hartley was injured on Aug. 28 against the Washington Mystics. On Monday, the team announced that she had been diagnosed with a tear of her anterior cruciate ligament and would be out for the rest of the season.

Hartley came to the Mercury in the off-season as a free agent. Many criticized the decision of the team to give her a fully-guaranteed three-year deal worth $190,517 per year, but head coach Sandy Brondello said that it was an indication of how much the organization thought of Hartley.

Their faith appeared to have paid off as the veteran was having a career season in her seventh year in the league. Across the board, Hartley’s offensive numbers were career highs.

Her 14.7 points per game represented the first time she had averaged double-digit scoring in her career. She was shooting 42 percent from the field, including 38.5 percent from 3-point distance. Even her 80.5 percent accuracy from the free-throw line was a career-high.

Hartley was also making things happen for others. Her 4.5 assists per game were second on the team, trailing only Diana Taurasi.

On defense, she was responsible for a career-high 1.2 steals per game, the first time she had ever averaged at least one steal per contest.

Hartley sustained the non-contact injury in the first quarter against the Mystics. Non-contact ACL injuries are five times more common in female athletes than in male athletes.

Hartley also missed three games earlier in the season due to an Achilles injury.