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Mercury advance to Western Conference finals with 91-67 win over Shock in final game in Tulsa


TULSA, Oklahoma — Brittney Griner did whatever she wanted against the Tulsa Shock.

The 6-foot-9 center had 23 points, 12 rebounds and five blocks, and the defending champion Phoenix Mercury won 91-67 on Saturday night to advance to the Western Conference finals.

Griner had 18 points, eight rebounds and a playoff-record 11 blocks in Game 1.

"Griner is really in a rhythm right now in her game and in her career," Tulsa coach Fred Williams said. "She's a hard young lady to stop inside that paint."

DeWanna Bonner had 20 points and 11 rebounds, Monique Currie scored 11 points and Candice DuPree added 10 for the Mercury, who swept the opening-round series and will next face Minnesota or Los Angeles.

Griner said she's not worried about which team is next.

"It doesn't matter," she said. "We're going to play hard no matter who we play."

Odyssey Sims scored 22 points for Tulsa in its only home playoff game in six seasons since moving from Detroit. The Shock will move to the Dallas area next year.

It's an especially tough move for Courtney Paris, who played college ball at Oklahoma.

"For me, especially, it's sad for me to leave Tulsa, and leave Oklahoma," she said. "I just appreciate all the fans and all the support the last couple years. It was up and down the first couple years, and the only thing that was consistent was the support of the fans."

Tulsa endured a season-ending knee injury to All-Star Skylar Diggins and a pregnancy that cost Glory Johnson the season to reach the playoffs. Even with the game out of reach, most of the crowd of 3,261 remained energetic and stayed until the end.

"I'm proud of the team, and I look forward to the future with this group of women," Diggins said. "From the outside looking in, I've gotten to watch so many players grow. So many great moments that we've been able to share with the city of Tulsa."

The Mercury led 55-22 at halftime of Game 1 on Thursday night before winning 88-55. Tulsa was better this time. Griner picked up two fouls in the first quarter and barely played in the first half. The Shock took advantage and went up 26-21 in the second quarter.

Griner returned from a break, and the Mercury went on an 8-0 run to go up 29-26 before she committed her third foul. Phoenix maintained control this time, bumping its lead to 41-31 at halftime.

"That was pretty huge," Bonner said. "That's when we got things turned around and got momentum going in to halftime. When you've got momentum and you've got her coming back in the second half, that's huge."

The Mercury pushed their lead to 64-48 at the end of the third quarter. Tulsa forward Plenette Pierson said the final result doesn't diminish the team's accomplishment.

"We had a great season this season," she said. "I think we proved a lot of people wrong. We believed in each other, and we grew together as a group. Tonight was not a failure for us. The season was not a failure for us."

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PHOTO: Tulsa Shock's Karima Christmas, right, drives the basket and is defended by Phoenix Mercury's Brittney Griner (42) during a WNBA Western Conference semifinal Saturday, Sept. 19, 2015, in Tulsa, Okla. (Joey Johnson/Tulsa World via AP) ONLINE OUT; KOTV OUT; KJRH OUT; KTUL OUT; KOKI OUT; KQCW OUT; KDOR OUT; TULSA OUT; TULSA ONLINE OUT; MANDATORY CREDIT
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