By Troy Littledeer
4,209 were on hand Saturday at the Tulsa Shock's "Women of Inspiration" and Title IX celebration at the BOK Center to witness Tulsa (1-11) waging a war with the Indiana Fever (7-4) after a slow start.
The Shock lost the first quarter to Indiana 18-9 and then the second 15-13 to only muster 22 points, their lowest scoring total in a half this year. Despite the offensive struggles, Tulsa kept dueling with Indiana through the first half, shooting 32.3% from the field versus Indiana's 33.3%. At intermission, it was the free throw game that had done Tulsa in. Indiana went to the line to shoot 11-for-12. Tulsa only appeared at the stripe four times and made just one attempt during the first half. The Fever led 33-22 at intermission.
By the end of the game, however, the home team had grappled their way back. A pair of free throws by Glory Johnson tied the game at 68s with under a minute to play. Then, a dagger three by Erin Phillips took the one-possession game to two with 16.9 seconds remaining. Tulsa's Temeka Johnson returned the favor and swished a three with only 12 ticks left to boost the Shock back within one of the Fever, 71-70.
"I thought we really outplayed them there in the second half," Tulsa Head Coach Gary Kloppenburg said. "I'm really proud of our players, we've been battling and fighting every possession."
The Shock had to foul reigning WNBA MVP Tamika Catchings to stop the clock with 9.3 seconds left in the game. Catch sunk both free throws to secure Indiana's 73-30 lead. After a timeout, Tulsa's Ivory Latta got off a contested three with about three seconds to play that was way off the mark and sealed the game for the visiting Fever.
"We have to keep fighting, keep battling because we are going to win these close games," Klopp said of the biting loss - one of many one-possession games this season. "We are going to learn how to win these close games. We've got to put ourselves in a position like we did tonight to try and win those games."
Tulsa's Glory Johnson led all scorers with a career-high 22 points, five rebounds and three assists. Catchings led Indiana with 16 points, eight rebounds and four assists.
Courtney Paris made her home court debut for Tulsa and competed in only her second game. Paris welcomed the fans prior to the introductions to a huge ovation. Coach Kloppenburg noted on Paris, "She's really done a great job. We've only had a couple of practices. She's just a old school, low post player." Paris' 11 boards led both
teams in rebounding to make an impression. She coupled that with 10 points for the double-double, just the second for a Shock player this year. The first was by rookie GloJo in the opening game of the season.
Next up for Tulsa is a home game against Los Angeles. The Atlanta Dream will host Indiana next. Both games are on Tuesday.