Shock 86, Lynx 77 (OT)
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Tamika Williams set a WNBA record for field goal percentage in a season (66.8%).
David Sherman, WNBAE/Getty Images
With tonight's loss, Minnesota finishes its regular season at 18-16, the first winning record in franchise history
. The Lynx, who clinched their first-ever playoff berth with Wednesday's win at Phoenix, will have the Western Conference's fourth seed due to Sacramento's victory at Phoenix this evening. Minnesota will face two-time defending WNBA champion Los Angeles in the first round, with Game 1 slated for either Thursday or Friday (Aug. 28 or 29) at Target Center.
Detroit guaranteed itself homecourt advantage throughout the 2003 WNBA Playoffs with tonight's win, improving to 24-9 on the season with one game remaining (Monday vs. Washington). The Shock, who have engineered the biggest one-season turnaround in WNBA history (9-23 a year ago), also secured the best winning percentage ever by an Eastern Conference team (Cleveland went 22-10 in 2001). Detroit finishes 12-5 on the road, behind only Los Angeles' 13-4 mark.
The Lynx wind up 11-6 at Target Center, with losses in their last two outings. L.A. snapped Minnesota's franchise-record seven-game home winning streak with an 87-83 decision on Aug. 14. Tonight's finale saw 12,747 in attendance, the second-biggest home crowd in club history (14,171 vs. Orlando, Aug. 20, 1999). The Lynx finish the year averaging 7,074 in 17 Target Center outings.
The win was Detroit's first in four visits to Minnesota, and cuts the Lynx' advantage in the overall series
to 4-3. Detroit improves to 4-0 in OT games this summer with tonight's win, tying a WNBA single-season mark for overtime victories (Portland 4-1 in 2001). Meanwhile, Minnesota slips to 1-1 in extra sessions this season, having notched a 68-64 home win over Houston on June 1. The Lynx are 4-7 all-time in overtime games
Minnesota opened up a 14-point lead (37-23) early in the second half before the Shock rallied. That equals the second-biggest lead the Lynx have ever let slip away (19 vs. Los Angeles, July 1, 1999) and is just the second double-digit advantage they've squandered this year (14 at Houston, July 1). Detroit has now made up four deficits of 10+ points in 2003; they dug out of a 21-2 hole at Seattle last Sunday, winning 95-86.
In a battle between the WNBA's top two rebounding teams, Detroit (+4.8 rpg) compiled a 46-39 edge on the Lynx (+2.6 rpg). Shock forward Cheryl Ford posted her fourth consecutive point/rebound double-double (and league-leading 15th of the season) with 15 points and 13 boards. She now has 334 rebounds on the season, the third-highest total in WNBA history. Sacramento's Yolanda Griffith holds the record with 357 in 2001, while Utah's Natalie Williams grabbed 336 rebounds in 2000.
Minnesota forward Tamika Williams
made her only field-goal attempt of the night, finishing the season at a WNBA-record 66.8% (129-for-193) from the floor. Portland's Alisa Burras held the previous record by hitting 62.9% in 2002. Williams, who shot 73.3% (66-for-90) at Target Center, is the only player in the league currently above 50%; Detroit center Ruth Riley (16 points tonight) ranks second at 50.0%.
Lynx guard Katie Smith
matched Detroit's Kedra Holland-Corn for game scoring honors with 19 points, finishing the season at 18.2 ppg tops among WNBA guards. Smith established career bests in field-goal accuracy (45.7%), three-point accuracy (39.0%) and rebounds (4.1 rpg) this summer.