PHOENIX — Diana Taurasi scored 23 points, including a 17-footer to break a 65-65 tie with 1:42 left, and the Phoenix Mercury held off the Tulsa Shock 70-67 Friday night in the debut of interim coach Russ Pennell.
Candice Dupree scored eight of her 20 points in the fourth quarter and added nine rebounds as Phoenix opened up a nine-point lead. But Liz Cambage sparked a 9-0 run to get Tulsa even with 1:57 remaining.
Taurasi and Lynetta Kizer made baskets while Tulsa failed to score on back-to-back possessions. Nicole Powell hit a baseline jumper with 31 seconds left to pull the Shock within 69-67. Taurasi missed a baseline floater and Tulsa got the ball with 9 seconds left. Rookie Skylar Diggins missed a driving layup in traffic in the dying seconds.
Cambage led Tulsa with 19 points.
Pennell took over Thursday after the Mercury fired coach and general manager Corey Gaines following a five-year run that included the 2009 WNBA title.
Phoenix, which earned only its second win in the last six games, outrebounded Tulsa 40-25 but had 23 turnovers, leading to 19 Shock points.
It was the third loss in the last four games for the last-place Shock.
Phoenix opened a 49-40 lead in the third quarter, but Diggins scored the last eight points of the period after hitting a 3-pointer and Tulsa was within 54-53 going into the fourth.
No. 1 draft pick Brittney Griner, who landed awkwardly on her ankle in Tuesday’s loss to Seattle, warmed up but did not play.
Pennell was head coach at the University of Arizona after Hall of Fame coach Lute Olson retired in 2008. He spent the last four seasons as head coach at Division II Grand Canyon University in Phoenix.