The Los Angeles Sparks ended the regular season with a 89-86 loss Sunday afternoon on the road against the Connecticut Sun.
Both teams were down a starter in this one as Nneka (unknown) and Chiney (sore knee) Ogwumike were late scratches.
With the four seed still up for grabs for both teams, the Sun appeared poised to run away near the midway point of the third quarter. Two different 3-pointers from Shekinna Stricklen pushed Connecticut’s lead to 19 and forced Sparks coach Brian Agler to burn timeouts in an attempt to stem the tide.
Williams went on a personal 4-0 run with a nifty reverse finish and a floater in traffic. Tuck allowed Sun coach Curt Miller to put more size on the floor without losing any shooting, and she managed to make L.A. pay inside as well with several hook shots over smaller defenders.
Jantel Lavender (17 points on 6-10 shooting in 35 minutes) started in place of Nneka Ogwumike, scoring in double figures for just the fifth time all season. Jonquel Jones, replacing Chiney Ogwumike, drew her second consecutive start for the Sun.
A three-point play by Jones put the Sun up 10 with 1:51 remaining. The Sparks refused to go down easy, extending the game in every way imaginable with the help of a few Sun miscues. L.A. got as close as two on a rainbow 3-pointer from Candace Parker with 5 seconds remaining.
Jones fouled Riquna Williams on a 3-pointer with 1.2 seconds on the clock with the Sparks trailing by four after a pair of Jasmine Thomas free throws. Williams missed the second free throw after hitting the first, then accidentally banked in the third in trying to miss to create an opportunity for an offensive rebound.
Parker stepped into the body of Alyssa Thomas before she inbounded the ball on the ensuing Sun possession and was whistled for a technical foul as a result.
If the Mercury lose Sunday, the Sparks will nab the five seed and host the Dallas Wings on Tuesday.