Rookie Brianna Kiesel led the Tulsa Shock to a 91-87 come-back victory over the reigning champs in a nail-biter that rivaled the feel of NBA-level competition Sunday afternoon. The triumph gives Tulsa their first-ever winning season finishing at 18-16 on the year.
The last regular-season home game for the Shock ever before they relocate to the Dallas/Fort-Worth area next year did not disappoint, and Head Coach Mike Williams reflected on the bittersweet moment following the win:
"Very emotional. The fans really pulled a lot of things through for us tonight. With us playing with the reserves, I thought it was a good hard-fought game. To be our last regular season game here in the BOK Center - I know we still have another one in the playoffs - but this is a special moment for myself and for the fans."
If this dress rehearsal is any indication, the upcoming playoff series between these two in the first round of the Western Conference semi-finals should definitely give the fans their money's worth. The exciting up-tempo offensive play led to six ties and 10 lead changes throughout the contest.
Both teams are playing at a high-level of competition, and even though many of the starters rested today, the bench players showed up, showed out, and are getting prepared to bring it when it matters most in the post-season.
Tulsa jumped out to a 16-13 lead in the first quarter, but after a short cold-streak and a 13-2 run by Phoenix, the Mercury ended the first half up 49-40 with a scorching 65% on shooting.
Another 12-0 run by Phoenix in the third make it look like they could be pulling away, but then Brianna Kiesel happened. Her 28 points (new career record) from all over the court coupled with Amanda Zahui B's 15 points and huge three triples in critical moments of the game were ultimately too much for the Mercury to handle.
The game came down to the final seconds where Mistie Bass missed both shots at the stripe that could have tied the game up 89-89.
The Shock finished at almost 50% efficiency from the field. Tiffany Jackson-Jones contributed 12 points, and Plenette Pierson added 10 points in limited minutes.
It was Kiesel's leadership however that really set the tone for the comeback, and she spoke of her personal record-setting play and how special of a way this was to end the regular season.
"I think I played well, as well as the team. The team just gives me so much confidence toward the end of the season. I know we're all going to be utilized during the playoffs. And having that extra boost, leaving here this season on a win will just allow us to carry it over into the playoffs."
Four Phoenix players ended in double figures; Bass, Francis, Quinn, and Monique Currie, who was spectacular with 26.
The Mercury have dominated in the overall series against Tulsa, but today's rally win marks two in a row for the Shock, giving them the momentum going into Thursday's game.
However, things may be a bit different with Brittney Griner back in the line-up. The superstar had a monster jam in the game against the Sparks Friday night and will definitely add some fire-power to Phoenix's overall production.
Get excited for the match-up between the Mercury and the Shock, because I have a feeling it's going to be a good one. The first game is Thursday night at 10 pm ET in Phoenix