In a game that featured multiple lead changes and runs, the Mercury kept grinding and eventually came out on top tonight against the Tulsa Shock, 89-86.
Phoenix is now 4-1 under interim head coach Russ Pennell and sits at 14-12 on the season, third place in the Western Conference.
Early on, Tulsa had their way with us, Pennell said after the game. I didnt think our defense intensity was very good and we talked about that. In the
third quarter, we picked our defense up. We play best when our defense is good because it fuels our offense. Full credit to Tulsa in the end, they made
some tough shots with hands in their face. I didnt particularly like how we closed out the game but those are some things we can work on.
As I told the ladies in there, when you win a basketball game sometimes you will have to win it a little ugly at the end.
For the first time in franchise history, three players finished with double-doubles for the Mercury in the same game: Diana Taurasi had 28 points and 10
assists, Candice Dupree tallied 20 points and 10 rebounds and Brittney Griner added 15 points and 10 boards.
It was also the first time in franchise history with both a 20-point, 10-rebound game and a 20-point, 10-assist game.
It was definitely a game of runs, Diana Taurasi said. We didnt play very well [in the first half]. In that third quarter, we did a pretty good job of
keeping people in front and making them take tough shots. They are a good team.
They have people that can just score that ball.
Still, it was on the defensive end of the floor that ultimately sealed the deal for the Mercury. Trailing 32-29 at halftime, Phoenix outscored Tulsa 27-15
in the third quarter to take a nine-point lead into the fourth quarter.
Tulsa pulled to 66-62 early in the fourth, but Phoenix scored the next nine points - including six straight by Candice Dupree - to extend the lead to 13
with just over five minutes left in the game. Tulsa cut the Mercury lead to just two late in the quarter before Taurasi made four free throws in the final
15 seconds to secure the Mercury's win.
If we can learn to play for longer stretches on the defensive end, I think this team has a chance to go a long way, added Pennell.
The Mercury out-rebounded Tulsa 47-41 and assisted on 19 of their 34-made field-goals. Phoenix has now won 14 of the last 16 games against the Shock,
including seven of eight in Tulsa.
We started off well and then at the end we had a hard time with their pressure and made some bone-head mistakes, said Candice
Dupree. But overall, we were able to grind it out so it was a good win.
The Mercury returns home to face the Seattle Storm at US Airways Center on Friday, August 23 at 7 p.m.
Four Mercury players scored in double figures Taurasi (28), Dupree (20), Griner (15) and Bonner 10.
Quote of the Night: Shock Head Coach Gary Kloppenburg
In the third quarter we came out with low energy. That was the quarter that changed the game."