Minnesota 78, Tulsa 74 - Anatomy of The Play That Got Away

 

It's hard - and quite unfair, to be honest - to blame the outcome of any game on any sport on one particular play. Even in the case of a buzzer beater, both the winners and losers have to play the entire game, not just the last seconds.

But I know Tulsa wants that one play back from last night.

After a tight game throughout, the Shock fell behind by 12 points with 3:53 to play. With 43.5 seconds the Minnesota Lynx lead was down to nine. But let's be honest, 43.5 seconds isn't a lot of time to work with. Doable? Yes. Rare? Heck yes.

 

After a miss at the line by Lindsey Whalen, veteran Sheryl Swoopes scooped up the ball. Ivory Latta raced down the court and completed the and-1. 39.1 seconds left. Six point contest. A pair of Seimone Augustus free throws was followed by a quick Latta triple. 27.1 seconds left. Five point Lynx lead. Taj McWilliams-Franklin missed her second free throw and Amber Holt threw up a three of her own with the dish for Latta. 19.8 seconds left. Three point game. Taj splits a pair of free throws again to bring the score to 76-72 with 19.1 on the clock. Tulsa takes a timeout to prepare for what might be.

"We switched like we always do at the end of the game. Coach was like, ‘we have to switch this time and not let them hit any more threes' since they hit those two big threes to pull the game within three," McWilliams-Franklin said. "I didn't think Latta was going to shoot that floater."

And then the play happened.

"Latta came in the lane, she did her thing because she's really good at getting in the lane," Maya Moore said of the play. "She spun, she tried to throw up one of her classic floaters, but Taj was right there. She got a piece of it and it got tipped and that really sealed the game for us."

After the blocked shot by McWilliams-Franklin with 13.8 seconds on the clock, the Lynx got a team rebound. The Shock's shot at coming back to grab the win was all but gone. The requisite free throw/foul exchange finished out the game, with Minnesota hanging on for the 78-72 victory.

The play that Teresa Edwards wishes she could have back is one that she's taking the fall for.

"I didn't really detail it all the way through, so I'm going to take the blame for that one," Edwards said. "I wanted something to take place that we rushed into, and we didn't space it well enough to give ourselves a chance. That's definitely my fault. I think if I had just taken my time and made sure we spaced it right, made the perfect cuts for that, we would have at least given ourselves a good chance at the basket. I'm going to knock myself over the head for that one."

Would that play have made the outcome of the game different? Who knows. If Tulsa had converted the basket as designed, the Shock still would have been down 76-74. On Tuesday, Monica Wright hit the last pair of free throws in the game. In the scenario of the Tulsa make rather than block followed by Wright's free throws, that would put the Shock down four with 11.9 seconds. Could Tulsa have pulled off another three to make it a one-possession game with under 10 seconds to play? At this point, it's moot. But man was it close. Close enough to make a coach happy in the face of defeat.

"I'm not a moral victory person, but hell I'm happy with the way my team played tonight," Edwards said with a smile. "We've got some runs in us. We may run to the finish line and not cross it, but we're going to run."

And run they did. But I know Tulsa wants that one play back.

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