MINNEAPOLIS (AP) - Two teams headed in different directions made history on Sunday night, yet neither head coach was happy at the end.
Seimone Augustus scored 16 points and the Minnesota Lynx handed the Tulsa Shock their WNBA record-tying 17th straight loss with an 82-54 victory.
In a matchup of the teams with the best and worst records in the league, the Lynx (18-5) won their 11th in 12 games, while Tulsa fell to 1-22. The Shock will try to avoid setting a new record for consecutive losses when they face the Los Angeles Sparks at home next Sunday. Tulsa is tied with the Atlanta Dream, who lost the first 17 games of their inaugural 2008 season.
Lindsay Whalen chipped in 12 points and nine assists for Minnesota.
Sheryl Swoopes scored nine points for Tulsa, whose interim head coach, Teresa Edwards, coached her first game since she was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame on Friday. Edwards said she's still trying to find the right buttons to push since taking over when Nolan Richardson resigned last month.
``It's just not a time to beat them up, it's not a time to be sad,' said Edwards, whose team has lost 12 straight games since Richardson's resignation. ``I've got to let them be who they are and try to just instill the most important things and be prepared for it game in and game out in hopes that I find a different tactic here to spark some growth.'
Minnesota matched its franchise record for victories in a season and moved one step closer to its first playoff appearance in seven years. Any combination of four Lynx wins or Los Angeles losses will put Minnesota in the playoffs.
``We're a team that's striving for perfection,' said Lynx coach Cheryl Reeve. ``We're carrying the label of the best team in the league. With that goes a lot of responsibility every time you step on the court to play great and be the great players that they are.'
The Lynx shot 47.8 percent and went 13 of 20 on free throws, but Reeve was disappointed in the energy the starting five showed while trying to build on a 15-point halftime lead.
``We started the (third) quarter with the ball and we turned it over. The next possession we fouled and it just kind of continued from there,' Reeve said. ``That group, with the exception of (Lindsay Whalen), I just didn't think played the way we had hoped coming out of the locker room.'
Minnesota's reserves combined for 31 points and played nearly 40 percent of the team's minutes, giving their veteran starters some much-needed rest. Maya Moore, Candice Wiggins, Jessica Adair and Monica Wright each scored nine points, and All-Star forward Rebekkah Brunson added eight points and six rebounds.
After playing for four years at UConn, Moore said she understands Reeve's mentality and that she's trying to push her players to biggger things than merely winning in the regular season.
``I'm very used to that mindset of not playing to the scoreboard. It's about the quality of play,' Moore said. ``There's just some things we have to tighten up, just continuing to stay focused every possession. That's what it's going to take to win a championship.'
While the Lynx have never won more than 18 games in a season, much less a playoff series, a recent nine-game winning streak showed they're clearly title contenders.
``We've been thinking about a championship since the first day of training camp, honestly. But getting to a championship - there's steps to it,' Wiggins said. ``It's not really a matter of getting ahead of ourselves. This is reality, so we have to be thinking of a championship. But at the same time you have to be thinking about what's right ahead of us.'
The Associated Press News Service
The Associated Press
All Rights Reserved