TULSA, Okla. (AP)—Already eliminated from the postseason chase, Riquana Williams says she and her Tulsa Shock teammates are ready to play spoiler.
Williams helped put a dent in New York’s playoff hopes as she scored 22 points, including a pair of crucial free throws with 21.1 seconds remaining, to help Tulsa beat the Liberty 93-88 on Sunday.
New York (11-19) now trails fourth-place Indiana by three games with four games to play.
“This feels great,” Williams said. “We are riding high right now and we just want to keep this up. We know our playoff hopes are over. Now we want to crush other people’s dreams.”
Candice Wiggins scored a season-high 25 points for Tulsa (10-20) and Courtney Paris added a double-double with 10 points and 13 rebounds. Her three-point play with 28.9 seconds left gave the Shock an 89-86 lead.
“It was a great play design,” said Paris, who has flourished in the middle for Tulsa since starting center Liz Cambage went down with an ankle injury. “Glory (Johnson) set a great screen and they were able to find me with the pass. I just want to make the most of every opportunity.”
Cappie Pondexter finished with 20 points and became the 12th player in WNBA history to eclipse 5,000 career points when she hit a 3-pointer with 35.3 seconds remaining to tie the game at 86.
Paris, however, answered for Tulsa with a three-point play before Pondexter scored to make it a one-point game with 22.1 seconds remaining. Those, however, would be the last points scored by the Liberty.
“We had our moments tonight, but we haven’t been able to string together an entire game with intensity,” Liberty coach Bill Laimbeer said. “Our fourth quarter was by far our best quarter, but (Tulsa) made the plays late, including that three-point play after we came back and tied it.”
Wiggins had 20 of her 25 points in the first half, including six 3-pointers, as Tulsa hit 9 of 13 first-half tries from beyond the arc to claim a 52-48 lead at intermission.
Tulsa grabbed control of the contest in the first quarter, thanks to a 14-2 run late in the period. Williams had seven points during the run that pushed the Shock to a 28-19 advantage.
New York would claw its way back, opening the second quarter with a 17-7 spurt, with Kara Braxton scoring on back-to-back inside shots to give the Liberty a 38-37 edge.
Coming out of a timeout with 2:54 left in the opening half, Tulsa’s offense once again started clicking, with Wiggins draining a pair of 3-pointers to help the Shock on a 10-2 run just before halftime.
Sunday’s win assured Tulsa of its first double-digit-win season since the team relocated from Detroit prior to the 2010 season.