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June 16, 2013

Taurasi helps Mercury beat Shock 108-103 in OT

LYNN JACOBSEN
Associated Press

TULSA — After struggling from the field in the first half, Diana Taurasi took over for the Phoenix Mercury.

She scored 21 of her team-high 29 points in the second half and overtime to lead the Mercury to a 108-103 victory over the Tulsa Shock on Sunday.

"When the game is on the line, hopefully you can make plays," Taurasi said. "We had so many people making shots. Duwanna (Bonner) hit some big 3s. Charde (Houston) kept us in the game in the first half.

"As it turned out we needed that. Tulsa came in ready. If they play like that the rest of the season, they will get a lot of wins this season. They fought for everything today."

Tulsa fell behind early then rallied behind reserve guard Riquna Williams, who scored a career-high 28 points. Williams made six 3-pointers, including one to force overtime with 0.3 seconds remaining.

Williams fell to the ground after tying the game at 93-all.

"I never felt the floor," Williams said. "I've been in the gym a lot lately. The coaches told me they wanted me to shoot 3s and that's what I've done."

Williams said the shot to tie the game was a thrill that ranked up with the game-winning shot she had to end Maryland's home win streak during her college career at Miami.

"I tried not to get too emotional," she said of Sunday's game-tying score. "We still had work to do."

As it turned out, so did Taurasi. She scored 13 of her team's final 20 points, including eight in overtime.

"I just tried to do what I could for my team," Taurasi said.

Shock coach Gary Kloppenburg said he was disappointed with the loss — the fourth in overtime this season — but liked how his team competed.

"We fought and battled," he said. "Diana is unbelievable. She lives for those big moments like that. She hit some big daggers that just broke our back. She's something special and she's a great, great competitor."

Bonner finished with 23 points for the Mercury (3-3), hitting some clutch perimeter shots whenever the Shock (1-7) got close.

Candice Dupree added 20 points and 10 rebounds while Brittney Griner had 16 points and five blocked shots. Houston came off the bench to score 10 points.

Tulsa had three players set career highs offensively. Glory Johnson scored a game-high 32 points. She also had 15 rebounds.

Skylar Diggins added 22 points. Candice Wiggins added 14 for the Shock.

Tulsa's struggles in the low post continued with the absence of Tiffany Jackson-Jones (stress fracture) and Liz Cambage (ankle) as the Mercury outrebounded the Shock.

The second half had eight ties and 11 lead changes before Taurasi took over, scoring eight points in the overtime.

Taurasi said she expects big things from the Shock in the future.

"He has them playing as hard as anyone in the league," Taurasi said of Kloppenburg. "Once they get Lizzie (Liz Cambage) back with the outside game they have and the inside game they will have, they are going to be tough."

But Tulsa didn't go quietly on Sunday.

In the first half, the Shock harassed Taurasi and Bonner into 5-of-18 shooting from the field.

And when Kloppenburg went to the smaller, quicker lineup — including Goodrich and Williams — Tulsa ran at will. During one stretch in the first half, Williams hit five consecutive baskets, including a pair of 3-pointers to allow the Shock to climb back into the game after being down eight points early.