Shock clinch playoff berth with two big wins

ShockFeaver1TULSA, OK—The bittersweet saga of the Tulsa Shock has a new and somewhat bizarre twist as for the first time in the six years in Tulsa (and their final year in Oklahoma) they will make the WNBA Playoffs.

They accomplished the feat by winning five straight, extending the Tulsa era record to 14.

The two wins this weekend boosting the Shock over the top and into the WNBA’s big dance were victories over the Los Angeles Sparks and the Indiana Fever – by all measure significant wins.

ShockFeaver2The Shock hosted the Los Angeles Sparks on Friday night. The Sparks came into the contest three games behind the Shock in the race in the WNBA Western Conference playoffs. The Shock came into the contest on a high note after defeating Phoenix and Connecticut. The Shock held off an assault by the Sparks in the middle quarters to emerge victorious 76-66.

On Friday night the Shock came out hot…with center Courtney Paris leading the way. She had six points in the game’s opening quarter and helped the home team roar out to a 24-12 lead at the first horn. In the first two minutes of the game every player who started for Tulsa had points on the board compared to only four Los Angeles players showing on the board. She also cleaned the glass for Tulsa in a big way, recording eight rebounds, five of which were defensive rebounds, in the first quarter alone.

Paris returned a double double in the game with 12 points and 13 rebounds in all.

ShockCoachTalkRefThe Shock held Los Angeles to 12 points in the first quarter, which ties a Sparks’ season low for points scored in the first quarter.  Tulsa scored 13 points in the second quarter, which is a Shock season low for points scored in the second quarter. At the half however, Tulsa led the Sparks, 37-27, at halftime. The Shock has led at halftime for nearly 80 percent of its home games, outpacing opponents by an average, per-game score of 37.8 to 34.4.

The third quarter slump hit the Shock after the half, allowing the Sparks to make up a lot of ground. The slump actually started in the second quarter when they outscored them 15-13 and they followed the break with a 26-19 third quarter. It made for an exciting finish as the Shock outpaced Los Angeles by seven points and finished the Sparks off. LA’s Candace Parker led all scorers in the period with nine and finished with 24 overall.

ShockSparks3With the win, the Shock improved to 9-0 when recording more assists than its opponent. Tulsa also improved to 9-1 when four Shock players have scored in double figures. Paris scored 12 points, Karima Christmas scored 11 points, and Odyssey Sims and Riquna Williams each scored 15 points. Three players scored in double figures for the Sparks: Parker 24, Toliver 13, and Dabovic 11.

The Shock could have clinched the playoff berth later on Friday night, had San Antonio defeated the Seattle Storm. That didn’t happen, so it was up to the Shock to get the job done with a win over Indiana on Sunday afternoon.

As the sis Friday night the entire starting lineup for the Shock had points on the board at the end of the first quarter. Odyssey Sims had the hottest hand with 13 points in the first quarter.

The Fever managed to score a mere 15 points in the first quarter, which was four points away from tying a season low for points scored in the first quarter.

ShockSparks4Tulsa got off to a hot start shooting 78.6% from the floor compared to 30.0% from Indiana. The Shock led the Fever 28-15 after the period. The Fever gained momentum in the second quarter thanks to an overabundance of fouling by the Shock in that quarter, ten of them for Tulsa in all. The Fever’s defense also held the Shock to 10 points in the second quarter, which is a Shock season low for points scored in the second quarter.

Odyssey Sims found herself in foul trouble early, picking up her fourth at the 1:13 mark in the 2nd quarter. Sims had 18 points on 6/8 shooting at that point in the game. She finished the game with 30 points, leading all scorers.

The Fever’s Tamika Catchings shot 7-of-10 for 22 points. With 13 rebounds, she recorded her sixth double-double of the season and the 96th of her career. Her three blocked shots matched her season high.

It became a street fight through the final quarters, but the Shock help on to defeat the Fever 76-70. Sealing their bid for the WNBA playoffs and attaining the post season for the first time since the 2009 season.

The only bad news for Tulsa was that Riquna Williams went down  left the game at the 9:01 mark in the 2nd quarter with a left shin injury and is day-to-day.

Playoff dates and times and location are to be announced. The season ends for the WNBA on September 13th, which by coincidence is the Shock’s final regular season home game against Phoenix who will be their opponent in the first round.

The location is in question because it is rumored that the BOK Center is booked with another event on the day they might play the home game of the best of three series in the first round.

Photos by Greg Duke, Tulsa Today.