League scoring leader Epiphanny Prince started out the month of June with 31 points vs. Washington, followed by 33 at Atlanta and now 32 against Tulsa to tie the WNBA record for consecutive 30-point games. (Credit: Reid Compton-US PRESSWIRE)
The Tulsa Shock nearly stepped out of the "team with the worst record" moniker last night. But Epiphanny Prince had something to say about that in Chicago. Her 3-point backboard bank shot to end regulation gave the Sky the tie. And after that, it was all Chicago in the bonus basketball period.
But before it was an overtime situation, Tulsa looked good - really good. They were sharing the ball and scoring buckets. The Shock were creating Chicago turnovers at will, 27 in the game to be exact. Tulsa was building a lead as the clock ticked down in regulation when Ivory Latta's runner with 1:05 made it a six point game and my thoughts went to the upcoming win. But Tulsa closed it out with a 5-of-10 effort from the line in the final 32 seconds and Prince took over with eight points in the final 28 seconds.
Prince's 3-pointer with nearly no time on the clock changed the thoughts of Tulsa fans from "we're gonna win" to "we can't close games" in quite a hurry. The extra period was all Sky as they outscored the Shock 21-14 in the The WNBA's counterpoint to the Miami Heat and the often talk about finish. So very close. And so very not. And that right there might be the interwoven thread of this season thus far.
Good game. Good effort.
Tulsa had a lot of good effort in the game indeed. 91 points in a game is a new season high. 41% shooting and 27 forced turnovers nearly matches the previous season-best mark and 17 assists ties it. The Shock had five double-digit scorers with Latta's 25 leading the way. Rookie Glory Johnson and vet Scholanda Dorrell added 17 apiece. Jennifer Lacy kept up her scoring ways with 13 and Temeka Johnson put in 10 points and six assists of her own.
Despite the good effort, Chicago's was juuuust better when it counted down the stretch.
Prince's 32 points gives her a great game with great effort, for the third contest in a row. She is now just the second WNBA player in history to have three consecutive 30-point games, a mark she shares with Cynthia Cooper. She was supported in the stunner with 16 points by Tamera Young. Sylvia Fowles was a rebound machine with ridiculous 21 boards to go with her 14 points. Courtney Vandersloot and Swin Cash added 14 points each, with half of Cash's offense coming in the overtime stretch.
The most heartbreaking part about Tulsa's good game that ends with a loss is this is not the first time that a last-second shot has ripped away a win from the winless. This is not even the second or third time that this has happened. It's the fourth game out of seven.
The Shock had a final shot to win the game on May 22 vs. Phoenix when Latta's three at the buzzer missed at Tulsa lost 89-87. On May 26 in Washington, Tulsa fell by three after a buzzer-beater to tie the game never came despite the Shock having possession with 3.8 seconds to play. Kristi Tolliver redeemed her 14-turnover night by giving Tulsa the buzzer-beating treatment in L.A. on May 29 as her three with 1.1 seconds to play gave the Sparks a 76-75 win. And now this game in Chicago where Prince did the same, only this time to prolong the game before the inevitable occurred.
So winless they stay. 0-7 in league play. But winless doesn't necessarily tell the whole story this season, does it? When you talk about Tulsa, it might be prudent to stick with "team with the worst record" rather than "worst team in the league". With a couple made free throws, a lucky bounce off a friendly rim or a couple less ticks left on the clock this story could be vastly different.
Tulsa's next chance to change the storyline from getting shocked to giving out a jolt of electricity of their own comes tonight at 7:00 p.m. CT as the Shock host the defending-champion Minnesota Lynx.