Shock Fall To Sparks Despite Holding 18-Point Lead

“They hear us coming.”

Those were the words Tulsa Shock’s (1-13) interim coach Teresa Edwards encouraged her team with, after losing an 18-point lead and falling to the Los Angeles Sparks (6-6), 79-74. The Shock started out with a strong overall game, offensively and defensively. The Sparks jumped out to an early 11-4 lead, but the Shock quickly recovered to finish the first quarter with a 23-21.

The Shock held onto their lead throughout the entire second quarter, and would go into the locker room with the largest lead they have had at halftime this season, 45-36. Tulsa shot 54.5 percent in the first 20 minutes of the game, making 60 percent of its field goals and 100 percent of its three-pointers in the second quarter. The momentum continued right into the second half. The Shock tacked on another nine points in the first few minutes of the third quarter, to match a season-high 18-point lead.

But the momentum shifted when Sparks head coach switched from man-to-man to a zone defense late in the third. At the start of the fourth quarter, Los Angeles had trimmed their deficit to seven points, 61-54.

In the fourth, the Shock shot only 31.3 percent from the floor, and the Sparks were able to take the lead, their first lead since 21-19 in the first quarter. With 19.7 seconds on the clock, Sparks guard Kristi Toliver would hit a game-clinching three-point shot that sealed the victory for the Sparks. The Los Angeles Sparks outscored the Shock 25-13 in the final quarter to secure their win.

“We had a good start, but we just couldn’t finish,” Shock forward Tiffany Jackson said. “We have struggled with starting the game out strong, and this time we did that. So it is just a matter of time before we put the whole game together.”

Jackson played nearly 37 of the 40 minutes in the game to earn her second double-double of the season, with 14 points and 10 rebounds. Guard Andrea Riley led the team with a season-high 15 points for the night, her second consecutive game to hit double-digit figures. Kayla Pedersen had 13, followed by Elizabeth Cambage with 11.

“I think we are learning to play together,” Riley said. “We are trying to do all the little things that we can. I think we have been through a lot since the first game of the season, and we have learned a lot. Now, it is just going to take a little time, and we have to be patient to get our success going. There are going to be times when you hang your head; there are going to be times when you are frustrated. That is just part of the game.”

This loss extends the Shock’s losing streak to eight, but Edwards has much optimism in her team’s strengths and abilities and sees the team moving in the right direction.

“I am very encouraged and I am proud,” Edwards said. “They girls are learning fast. They are learning me fast. They are learning themselves fast. They are taking some assessments of themselves and putting that to work. We are three games in together, and we keep progressing. As I told the girls, ‘They hear us coming.’”

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