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Offensive woes doom Mercury in loss to Shock

Two things led to Tulsa's easy win over the Mercury: defense and Riquna Williams. While Williams led the Shock offensively, their defense was top-notch, as Phoenix was held to 59 points.

Chris Poss

The Tulsa Shock used a full-fledged defensive effort to end a five-game home losing streak and take a 74-59 win over the Phoenix Mercury on Tuesday at the BOK Center.

Led by Riquna Williams' 18 points, four members of the Shock scored in double digits. Karima Christmas and Odyssey Sims added 15 points each, while Courtney Paris recorded an impressive double-double with 11 points and 11 rebounds.

Tulsa (12-14) raced out to a 19-14 lead after the first quarter, knowing that getting off to a solid start against one of the best teams in the league would be key. The second quarter featured a slow pace, but the Shock managed to build their lead and go into halftime with a 35-25 advantage.

The Mercury, who entered Tuesday's game averaging 75.6 points per game, were limited to a lowly 59 points on 33.3 percent shooting from the field. Brittney Griner struggled to find ways to contribute on the night, scoring just nine points and grabbing seven rebounds.

"I thought Tulsa controlled the game for the most part of it.  I don't think we brought the right aggressive mentality that we needed to play against a team like the Shock," Mercury coach Sandy Brondello said. "We've had tough games against Tulsa.  They're very athletic, and they can score from multiple positions, with obviously their guards, but Christmas pounded us on the boards.

"They showed their toughness tonight.  Credit to Tulsa, they played well tonight."

Candice Dupree continued to play well for Phoenix (15-10), which has now lost two consecutive games. She scored a team-high 18 points and added four rebounds. Over her last eight games, Dupree is averaging a remarkable 16.3 points per game.

Despite the solid outing, Dupree noticed her team wasn't firing on all cylinders early in the game, and that cost them at the end.

"Tulsa played really well, and their athleticism hurt us," Dupree said. "We have to be more consistent for an entire 40 minutes and not try and turn it on after halftime."

Tulsa is showing signs of life, and after overcoming a 10-game losing streak it has won consecutive games. The win also gives the Shock a much-needed victory over Phoenix, an opponent they were 0-3 against entering Tuesday and could face in the playoffs.

"I think the key to that is we learned to slow the ball down a little bit and don't panic, don't start putting up shots right away. I thought we moved the ball a little bit more. Some baskets we didn't hit in the past, we are making them," Tulsa coach Fred Williams said about his team's turnaround.

"That's the big difference, same with the New York game; we made a big basket when they made a run at us. Defense is starting to get the rotation a little better also."

A Sims floater high off the glass over Marta Xargay Casademont and Griner with 55 seconds left in the game put the Shock up by double digits and served as the dagger in the win.

Overall, Tulsa dominated the Mercury in assists, total rebounds, offensive rebounds and in fast-break points. Phoenix scored 30 points in the paint, which at times helped them stay in the game but ultimately wasn't enough for a win.

Phoenix now heads back home to Arizona for a matchup against the reeling Los Angeles Sparks on Friday. Tulsa will look to extend its winning streak to three games on Friday as well in a battle with the Connecticut Sun.