Mercury Beats Shock, Wins Third Straight
Coming off a huge win against the Los Angeles Sparks less than 48 hours ago, the Mercury faced a young, tough and explosive Shock team in Tulsa Sunday who were hungry for a win.
No, it wasn’t always pretty, but the Mercury gutted it out in overtime, 108-103 – the club’s third-straight victory and longest winning streak since a six-game stretch from July 1-15, 2011.
From the tip, it was a game of runs. The Mercury went on a 9-2 run in the first quarter, only to have the Shock follow with a 12-3 run of their own in the second quarter. The same theme played out in the third and fourth quarters with an amazing eight ties and 11 lead-changes occurring in the second half.
Nevertheless, in overtime, the Mercury scored a blistering 15 points in five minutes (eight coming from Diana Taurasi) which was too much for the Shock to handle in the end.
In spite of stretches where the Mercury didn’t necessarily play up to par, Phoenix out-rebounded the Shock 41-35, hit a season-high 10 three-pointers and assisted on 20 of their 37 field goals. As a team, they entered the coveted 50-40-90 club meaning they shot greater than 50 percent from the floor (50.0), 40 percent from beyond the arc (43.5) and 90 percent from the free-throw line (92.3).
“We did a good job of following the scheme correctly on defense,” Corey Gaines said. “We executed well offensively, too.”
And it obviously doesn’t hurt that Diana Taurasi continues to remain in full “White Mamba” mode.
The team is now 3-1 since Corey Gaines moved her to the “lead guard” role with Taurasi averaging 28 points and over five assists per game during the stretch. Tonight, in what could be argued as her best game of the season, she finished incredibly close to a triple-double with 29 points, nine rebounds, nine assists and three steals.
“We knew it was going to be a hard game,” said Diana Taurasi afterwards. “Tulsa has been playing tough all season; they took [Los Angeles] to overtime. They have a good team that makes you work and play hard every possession. We had to come out and match their energy; we withstood every single run they had.”
DeWanna Bonner tallied a season-high four three-pointers en route to her third-straight 20-point game (23) while also chipping in with four rebounds and four assists. Over the past three games, it’s evident that Bonner has seemingly rediscovered both her groove and confidence.
Candice Dupree returned after serving a one-game suspension and notched a double-double with 20 points on 8-15 shooting to go along with 10 rebounds. This was Dupree’s eighth double-double with the Mercury, tying Jennifer Gillom for second-most in franchise history (22 total for her career).
Brittney Griner, playing in limited minutes due to her knee sprain, came up huge defensively in the fourth quarter. Griner blocked three shots in a span of three minutes (she finished with five blocks, one shy of a franchise record) and altered even more. The rookie finished with 16 points, five rebounds and five blocks in just 23 minutes of play.
“I wanted to utilize the minutes I had,” said Griner. “I had limited minutes per quarter so I wanted to go in and do something; I didn’t want to go in and not be a factor.”
What can you say about this Phoenix Mercury team? After starting the season 0-3, they now sit at 3-3 and in third place in the Western Conference.
Certainly, the season is still early, but there’s no denying this team has fought back with heart, resilience and a united team attitude – all qualities that will be invaluable as the year winds on.
The Mercury went to the free-throw line 26 times and made 24. Not only was this huge in terms of winning the game, it is a direct correlation with a team who is attacking the basket and being aggressive offensively.
Quote of the Night: Tulsa Head Coach Gary Kloppenburg
“To win a game like this you almost have to play perfect."