Balanced scoring leads Shock over Mercury
The Tulsa rookie put her skills on display on both ends of the court to lead the Shock to its first win of 2014, a convincing 94-78 victory over Phoenix in front of a BOK Center crowd of 4,976 fans.
Sims scored a career-best 21 points in her sixth game as a pro, but it was the defensive effort she made on Phoenix star Diana Taurasi that pleased the former Baylor point guard the most.
"It wasn't easy guarding her," Sims said. "The coaches told me what to watch for with her. I just tried to contain her. She got a little frustrated in the second and third quarters.
" I mean, it's Diana Taurasi, and I consider her the best player. She's capable of going off for 30 or 40 points."
Sims harassed Taurasi into 5-of-12 shooting from the floor. Taurasi did capitalize on getting to the line and, once there, making the Shock pay dearly as she was 12 of 12 on free throws for a team-high 22 points.
Sims' backcourt mates, Skylar Diggins and Riquna Williams, combined for 37 points, and with Sims' 21, Tulsa's backcourt scored 58 of the team's 94 points.
"It's been a learning process and tonight it really kicked in for us," first-year Shock coach Fred Williams said of the backcourt play. "The guards really got after it defensively. That really set the tone for us up and down the floor.
"We just tried to contain Diana. She's a great player. She was able to get to the line. Odyssey had some help. Overall, our team fought to set the tone defensively in the first half."
In a game that featured just two lead changes, Tulsa (1-5) led the Mercury (4-2) by as many as 21 points. But Phoenix battled back in the third period, outscoring the Shock 22-17. Tulsa held on for its first win of the season and its first victory in its last eight games, dating back to last season.
Williams had five of the Shock's eight steals, four of which she turned into fast-break points.
"We started to realize if we continued to run we had a chance to win," Williams said. "It's great to get the win at home. The crowd was amazing. This is something we can build on."
Glory Johnson joined the double-digit scoring brigade with 16 points, 12 in the first half.
Penny Taylor and Mistie Bass joined Taurasi in double figures with 13 and 11, respectively.
Diggins set a Shock single game record for assists against Phoenix with nine.
"Our offense played off each other well tonight," Diggins said. "I thought we had better spacing. We have bigs like Court (Courtney Paris) and Glory who can finish. Jen (Jennifer Lacy) came in and knocked a few (shots) down. It was a total team effort."
As for the backcourt play, Diggins said, "When we are in the flow and running, it doesn't matter who has the ball, we're tough to stop."
Sims enjoyed going against former Baylor teammate Brittney Griner.
"It was fun," said Sims, who played sparingly in the 100-78 loss to the Mercury in Phoenix, "We were talking back and forth. She fouled me there at the end. I told her she may be 6-8, but I am going to keep taking it to her every time."
Paris and Jennifer Lacy did a nice job defending Griner, who was held to nine points and seven rebounds.
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