The Tulsa Shock outlasted the Connecticut Sun 84-76 in a nail-biting overtime performance Friday. The Shock entered the game coming off of two impressive wins last week. They traveled to Madison Square Garden and pulled off a convincing win against the tough New York Liberty, who lead the East.
Two days later Tulsa complimented that win with a win at home against the Phoenix Mercury on Tuesday. The win Friday gives them a three-game win streak as they fight to maintain the third seed in the West.
Connecticut, on the other hand, needed a win tonight to keep pace for the last playoff spot in the East. For most of the game, it looked like they would do just that. The Sun started with an early seven-point lead. Connecticut Forward Jennifer Lacy led the team with 13 first quarter points and three three-pointers. The Shock narrowed the gap with a long three-pointer at the first quarter buzzer from Odyssey Sims. Connecticut ended the first with a 20-18 lead.
The Sun came out with intensity in the second quarter. Connecticut seemed to score twice for every Tulsa bucket. The Shock needed to find a way to come up with some defensive stops to give their offense some momentum.
Riquna Williams continued to lead Tulsa's offense, pulling the team to within striking distance. The Sun put together a 9-2 run at the end of the half. Lacy sunk her fourth three-pointer of the game and Connecticut went into halftime with 39-30 lead.
The Shock had never won a game when trailing at the half. Good thing athletes don't pay too much attention to statistics. Tulsa came out of the locker room with a mission. It all started with a three-point jumper from Jordan Hooper. After her spark, the Shock maintained that intensity and the momentum seemed to shift. Courtney Paris gave Tulsa its first lead of the game with 4:30 left in the third.
Simms helped the Shock churn out an impressive 14-0 run. Despite being down by nine at the half, Tulsa ended the third up 55-46.
The Sun answered in the fourth. They put together their own eight-point run. Shekinna Stricklen sunk her second three-pointer to give the lead back to Connecticut. From there the teams traded points to traded leads.
With less than two minutes remaining, Sims drives hard to the basket scores, and one. She gives the Shock a 70-68 lead. Tulsa needed an enormous defensive stop on the ensuing Connecticut possession. Kelsey Bone proved too much for Paris, and she muscled her way to the basket to tie the game at 70.
The crowd is on their feet. With less than 30 seconds left, Williams responded with a 15-foot jumper to give the Shock a two-point lead, 72-70. Stricklen immediately answered tieing the game, 72-72, with 16 seconds on the clock. Stricklen finished the game with 13 points; she had eight in the fourth quarter alone.
Tulsa had the final possession, Sims with the ball; she drives for a layup as time expires, and the ball goes in and out sending the game into overtime.
The Shock won the opening tap, and Williams gave the team a four-point lead after two possessions, making it 76-72. There is no one on this Tulsa team that wants the ball more in close games and no one who can handle the pressure better. Williams loves the pressure, and she always rises to the occasion.
Stricklen tried to rally the Sun down the stretch. She hit two free throws to bring Connecticut within two, 78-76. The Shock responded on the ensuing possession and never looked back. Tulsa came out on top, 84-76. Williams and Sims led the team with 22 and 19 points, respectively. Vicki Baugh also had a solid performance with 14 points and five rebounds.
The Shock's effort Friday night combined with the Minnesota victory over San Antonio put Tulsa in great shape for the postseason hunt. The Shock get to take advantage of some much-needed rest and look to build on their three-game win streak August 28 against Los Angeles.
The Sun made their quest for the postseason that much more difficult with Friday's tough loss. Despite maintaining a lead throughout most of the game, the overtime push proved too much. Lacy had a monster game putting up 20 points and five rebounds.
Bone and Stricklen also had solid performances combining for 27 points. Unfortunately, there just wasn't enough in the tank down the stretch. Connecticut hopes to remain competitive in the push for the postseason Sunday when they host the Atlanta Dream.