TULSA, Okla. (AP) - Diana Taurasi wasn't sure why she was whistled for a technical foul in the fourth quarter.
Taurasi left the game for nearly 4 minutes and finished with 17 points to lead the Phoenix Mercury to an 86-78 victory over the Tulsa Shock on Friday night.
``Actually, I was told it was an over-gesture,' Taurasi said of the technical foul. ``I guess it was my Italian coming out in me.'
Penny Taylor had 16 points, Kara Braxton scored 11 points and DeWanna Bonner had 10 points and 11 rebounds to help the Mercury (7-4) get their third straight win and sixth in their last seven.
``We didn't necessarily play great tonight, we didn't have great rhythm offensively or defensively but we found a way to win and that is what you have to do on the road,' Taurasi said. ``Tulsa plays tough here, they get up and down. As long as we got the `W' that's all that matters.'
Elizabeth Cambage scored 19 points, including 7 for 8 on free throws, and Tiffany Jackson added 15 for the Shock (1-10), who have lost five straight. Kayla Pedersen had 13 points and Sheryl Swoopes scored 10 for Tulsa.
It ended up being coach Nolan Richardson's last game with the team. He resigned after the game and will be replaced on an interim basis by assistant coach Teresa Edwards.
David Box, one of the team's owners, confirmed early Saturday morning that Richardson had stepped down after going 7-38 in just over one season.
``While I am saddened to leave the Tulsa Shock at this time and in this manner, I am also very disappointed in the way we have started the year, and as coach, I accept my share of the responsibility,' Richardson said in a statement released by the team.
Shock guard Ivory Latta missed the game to a staph infection. It was uncertain when she would return to the lineup but she was not expected to join the team on its two-game road trip which begins Sunday at Phoenix.
The Mercury led by 18 points several times before Jackson scored six points in the first 2 1/2 minutes of the fourth quarter to key a 11-2 run that pulled the Shock to 78-71 with 7:15 to play.
During that stretch, Taurasi was whistled for a technical foul, leaving the game with 8:33 to play. She returned nearly 4 minutes later.
Neither team scored again until Bonner's layup with 3:29 remaining. Phoenix missed five shots and had four turnovers during that stretch, and Tulsa had four missed shots and two turnovers.
``It's all about inconsistencies,' Richardson said. ``I've seen it in practice, we just haven't translated that to the game. We need help on both sides of the ball. From a defensive standpoint, when you miss so many shots (48 on Friday), it doesn't allow you play as aggressively as you might like.'
The Mercury finished with a 34-6 edge in fastbreak points.
``We like to get out and run a little bit,' Taurasi said. ``But it didn't feel like we did it to the extent of 34 points. It sure didn't feel like it.'
Taurasi said Tulsa is a tough matchup for the Mercury.
``They have some key players and they're tough,' she said. ``They'll start rolling eventually. They have the talent to win some games, especially at home.'
Taylor had three consecutive baskets and Bonner made two free throws to give the Mercury a 43-34 lead with 2:09 to go in the second quarter.
Taylor made two from the line to cap a 12-0 run that bridged the second and third quarters to stretch Phoenix's advantage to 55-39.
Olayinka Sanni's jumper with 2:01 to go in the third put the Mercury up 70-52, their biggest lead of the game - and they matched it several times.
The Associated Press News Service
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