TULSA, Okla. (AP) Candice Dupree scored 31 points and had a key offensive rebound that led to Samantha Prahalis’ winning free throws with 22.2 seconds left and the Phoenix Mercury held off the Tulsa Shock for an 89-87 victory on Tuesday.
Diana Taurasi started, but played only 10 minutes and scored three points in her first playing time of the season while recovering from a strained left hip flexor.
”We wanted her to test it tonight, but you could tell when she got on the court that she just couldn’t move,” Phoenix coach Corey Gaines said.
Temeka Johnson and Ivory Latta each scored 16 points for Tulsa (0-2). DeWanna Bonner had 16 points for Phoenix (1-1).
”At our last practice, we set up some different plays for her (Dupree) and told her to be aggressive,” Gaines said. ”To get this win on the road and avoid starting 0-2 is big for us.”
Trailing by 11 with 4:42 to play, Tulsa went on a 14-2 run to take the lead at 86-85 on Glory Johnson’s two free throws with 1:26 remaining.
Charde Houston hit a pair of free throws to put the Mercury ahead 87-86, before Tulsa’s Scholanda Dorrell made a free to tie it at 87 with 55.8 seconds left.
Following a miss by Houston, Dupree grabbed the offensive rebound and Prahalis was fouled on the possession. She hit both free throws to give Phoenix an 89-87 lead.
”That was part of being aggressive,” said Dupree, who missed her career high by one point. ”Our coaches kept telling us to crash the boards and I saw an opening where I could get to the ball.”
Tulsa still had a chance to tie the game. Following a frenzied last possession by the Shock, Dorrell appeared to tie the game on a putback at the buzzer, but officials reviewed the play and waived off the basket.
It’s just unbelievable to me that it happened like that,” Temeka Johnson said. ”It was a great offensive board by Sho. She did what she needed to do to get in there and try to put it back. Glory came up with the rebound and it’s something we needed throughout this whole game. It’s a tough one to swallow, but we’ve got to regroup.”
Trailing 59-53 midway through the third quarter, Phoenix went on a 17-4 run to end the period.
Bonner played a big part in the Mercury run, hitting a 3-pointer to kickstart the Phoenix offense and adding a three-point play with 1:48 to play in the period.