TULSA, OK—The Tulsa Shock hosted the Phoenix Mercury on Tuesday night and handed the defending champs of the WNBA a 74-59 loss in front of an alleged 4,566 in the BOK Center.
The victory by the Shock (12-14) was a gritty, hard fought battle and saw two players reach major watermarks in their careers as center Courtney Paris notched her 1,000th career rebound in the first quarter and Karima Christmas scored her 1,000th career point in the second half.
Paris entered the game needing just four to reach that mark. The sixth-year pro out of Oklahoma finished the game with her fifth double-double on the season with 11 points and 11 rebounds. Christmas entered the game needing 11 points to reach the mark. The fifth-year pro out of Duke finished the game with 15 points in the game, including going 7-8 from the free throw line.
Riquna Williams scored 18 points for the Shock which was equal to Phoenix’s Candace Dupree who also had 18.
Forward Vicki Baugh started in place of Plenette Pierson who is out with a knee sprain. It was Baugh’s second start of the season. She played 22 minutes and finished with two points and eight rebounds. Her eight boards tied a season high for the second-year player out of Tennessee.
The Shock were surprisingly dominant in the game Tuesday night. They held the lead for three quarters until the Mercury took over in the early stages of the third quarter. Unlike previous games, however, the Shock weathered the third quarter storm and emerged with a 47-44 lead.
After being outscored 19-12 in the third quarter, the Shock responded by winning the fourth 27-15. In all, Tulsa had four players score in double figures. Williams led the team with 18, Christmas and Odyssey Sims both had 15, and Paris had 11.
Coach Williams was happy with the way his squad used pacing to wear the Mercury out.
“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.” Coach Williams said, “I thought we moved the ball a little bit more. Some baskets we didn’t hit in the past, we are making them. That’s the big difference, Defense is starting to get the rotation a little better also.”
It was one of the Shock’s best defensive games of the 2015 season. They managed to force 15 turnovers out of the Mercury, seven of which coming from Brittany Griner. The crown in the BOK Center cheered wildly when Griner turned the ball over, and even louder when she was called for a foul and her ensuing discussion earned her a technical.
The Shock earned their 12th win of the 2015, which equals the best record the franchise has had since moving from Detroit in 2010. One more win and the Shock will have had their best record ever in Tulsa, which further weakens Bill Cameron’s reason for moving the team to Arlington next season. Since only an act of God or the courts can stop that now, most fans are just trying to enjoy the Shock in the time they have remaining in Tulsa which can be counted on one hand.
The next home game for Tulsa is tonight when they will host the Connecticut Sun at 7pm in the BOK Center. Tickets for that game and the final four home games in Tulsa Shock history are on sale at the BOK Center or at shock.wnba.com.
Photos by Greg Duke, Tulsa Today.