9:00 PM ET, July 19, 2009
Tulsa: T. McWilliams-Franklin 21 Pts, 12 Reb, 3 Stl
Sacramento: N. Powell 12 Pts, 2 Reb, 1 Ast, 2 Stl
Three years ago, the Detroit Shock beat the Sacramento Monarchs in the WNBA finals. It will be difficult for either perennial contender to reach the postseason this year.The defending champion Shock complete their four-game road trip Sunday night against the Monarchs in a matchup of last-place teams.Detroit (4-8) and Sacramento (3-12) have made the playoffs each of the last six seasons, but will face an uphill climb in 2009. The Shock are tied with New York for last in the Eastern Conference, while the West's Monarchs own the worst record in the league.Both clubs have also already made coaching changes.Shock coach Bill Laimbeer resigned after three games to try to pursue an NBA job, with assistant Rick Mahorn taking over. Monarchs general manager John Whisenant replaced Jenny Boucek as coach last Sunday after the club's 3-10 start.The Shock won 86-72 over the Monarchs on June 28. Rookie Shavonte Zellous scored a game-high 18 points as Detroit cruised after building a 19-point halftime lead.Detroit missed a chance at a third straight win Saturday, losing 97-90 in overtime at Phoenix. Katie Smith scored 11 of her team-high 21 points in the fourth quarter.Sacramento has lost four straight after falling to 0-2 under Whisenant with a 69-56 loss to Seattle on Friday."We have to work harder," Whisenant said. "I knew this when I made this move that we didn't have many practice days but I could see the team was going in the wrong direction and I knew we needed to turn it around but obviously we haven't done that at this point."Whisenant made one change in giving rookie Courtney Paris her first start. She finished with 10 points in 27 minutes.Paris averaged 9.3 minutes with Boucek as coach. Under Whisenant, she's received an average of 25.5 minutes."I was a little nervous but I was happy to be in that role," Paris said. "I wanted to come out and help us win but unfortunately we lost."The former Oklahoma star got the start partly because forward Rebekkah Brunson was out with a strained right knee. It's unclear whether Brunson will be available Sunday.The Monarchs still believe there is time to turn around their season."We are in this together and we have to make the best of this situation," forward Crystal Kelly said. "We need to stick together to get this season back on track."