Kara Lawson comes up big in Sun victoryAugust 22, 2012
UNCASVILLE, Ct. - It had to end this way: with 11.8 seconds left in overtime, the Tulsa Shock, its 3-17 record the worst in the league, was beating the Connecticut Sun, with its glitzy 16-5 record, by 2 points.
All night the Sun’s Kara Lawson, who this week signed a three-year contract extension, had bailed out her team when it looked like the Shock was ready to upset one of the WNBA’s best teams on their own court.
In his final time out, Sun head coach Mike Thibault drew up a play for guard Allison Hightower to drive the baseline and shoot for what could be the winning shot. Failing that, the plan was to get the ball into the hands of center Tina Charles for a layup. Lawson, meanwhile, left alone by the defense was heading for the corner on the off-chance she got an open look.
Within seconds, the play fell apart.
Hightower was stopped by the Shock defense, forcing her to flip the ball to Charles, who was quickly surrounded by defenders so she couldn’t go up for a shot.
Though she had already canned 16 points (5 of 6 from long range), Lawson was still left wide open in the left corner her eyes locked with Charles, who shot a perfect pass to Lawson, who made a perfect three-point shot. The Sun had scraped by with an 82-80 win.
Lawson said she didn’t want to shout to Charles since that could tip off the defense; instead she moved her hands in front of her slightly, Charles picked up on it and the game was won by the player who had repeatedly bailed out her team throughout the entire 45 minutes.
“It was a great pass by Tina ... I knew it was in,” said Lawson. “It was a wide-open three. I’m supposed to make that shot.”
She said her main concern was to get back on defense since there was still time on the clock. All night the Shock had made impossible last-second shots to stay in the game so it was entirely possible they could score in the time remaining, but Ivy Lotta’s off-balance jump shot with 1.9 seconds left missed the mark and time ran out.
The game, interrupted repeatedly with whistles (32 fouls between them), had 13 lead changes and was tied six times. The Sun’s biggest lead was 8 points; the Shock’s 7.
Shock guard Temeka Johnson and forward Jennifer Lacy led their team with 14 points each. Four other players were in double figures.
Thibault said those suggesting that the Sun shouldn’t be worried about a game against the Shock (3-18) underestimated the Western Conference team.
“Those are quick players, and they can shoot and they played hard,” he said. “We probably can take away a lot and learn a lot from this game.”
Though the Sun (17-5) made mistakes – some poor passing, missed defensive assignments, he said the team kept its poise in regulation and overtime. “They did the things they had to do,” he said.
He said he was pleased his team kept its poise at crucial stages of the game, sending it into overtime when Kalana Greene grabbed an offensive board and scored with 13 seconds, and then in the overtime with Lawson’s buzzer beater.
He said the coaching staff has been working with Charles on passing the ball since as one of the league’s premier centers, she is constantly being double-teamed.
Charles had 13 points and 8 rebounds; forward Mistie Mims, starting for injured Ashja Jones, 11 rebounds and 11 points, and guard Renee Montgomery had 16 points off the bench, none more crucial than her three-pointer in the fourth quarter to give the Sun a one point lead with 3:30 left in regulation.
Lawson said the Shock was disruptive which made it hard for the Sun to get into any kind of flow.
“It was just one of those games where we felt like we couldn’t get into a rhythm, she said. “We would go on a short run and they would answer right back. We were always fighting uphill and they played really hard. I mean credit them. They had their share to do with why we weren’t playing as well.”