Sparks 78

(9-1, 6-1 away)

Shock 87

(4-1, 2-1 home)

    7:30 PM ET, June 17, 2003

    1 2 3 4 T
    LA 33 43 2 78
    TUL 30 46 11 87

    Top Performers

    Los Angeles: T. Dixon 22 Pts, 8 Reb, 1 Ast

    Tulsa: R. Riley 15 Pts, 7 Reb, 3 Ast, 1 Stl, 2 Blk

    Foul-plagued Leslie limited to 13 points

    AUBURN HILLS, Mich. (AP) -- Swin Cash and the Detroit Shock did not want to make Bill Laimbeer look bad.

    The Shock coach and former NBA standout said publicly his team would beat the two-time defending champion Los Angeles Sparks -- and it did.

    Cash scored 20 points to lead Detroit past the Sparks 87-78 in overtime Tuesday night, snapping the longest winning streak in the seven-year history of the WNBA at 18 games.

    "Coach put himself out there by saying we were going to win, so we had to back him up,'' Cash said.

    Los Angeles won its final nine games last season and started this one 9-0. That tied the Sparks' own 2-year-old mark for the best start in league history.

    Detroit maintained its lead in the Eastern Conference with what might have been the biggest win in its six seasons.

    The Shock have won four straight and have been atop the conference for three days -- the longest stint in team history -- after starting 0-13 last season.

    Detroit's only winning season was in its first year (1998) and the franchise was in danger of folding last year due to a lack of success and interest.

    "This is a really big win for our franchise because it lets our community know we're for real,'' Cash said. "But we have stay focused because we play the New York Liberty on Friday at home and they have what we want and that's an Eastern Conference title.''

    After a strong start, the Shock trailed by 16 points early in the second half against Los Angeles. A 12-2 run gave them a chance to come back, and they made just enough stops and shots to force overtime.

    Ruth Riley made two free throws with 3.7 seconds left to tie it at 76. With a chance to win the game, the Sparks turned the ball over and Elaine Powell just missed a half-court heave at the buzzer.

    Detroit scored the first seven points in overtime before an excited crowd of 5,411.

    "These ladies made me look really good,'' Laimbeer said with a grin.

    Tamecka Dixon led the Sparks with 22 points. The top team in the WNBA had to go for much of the game without the best player in the league.

    Lisa Leslie was limited to 13 points because she was in foul trouble all game.

    Leslie fouled out with 34.8 seconds left in the game after being called for a fifth foul with 13:36 to go, and having three fouls just five minutes into the game.

    "I don't really feel like I played a game,'' Leslie said. "We finally got our loss and that's over with. We look forward to seeing them again.''

    The only way the Sparks and Shock will meet again this season will be if they play in the WNBA finals in September.

    Both teams were led by former NBA players -- Sparks coach Michael Cooper and Laimbeer _ who competed for championships.

    Cooper helped the Los Angeles Lakers beat Laimbeer and the Detroit Pistons for the NBA title in 1988. The next year, Detroit and Laimbeer beat Cooper and the Lakers for the first of its two straight titles.

    "Detroit ought to be glad because we gave them the game,'' Cooper said. "This is a good present for them, but I guarantee you that there will not be another one.

    "They came to play, but you know what? We are the champions and we are still the champions until beaten.''

    Riley scored 15 points, and rookie Cheryl Ford -- the daughter of NBA star Karl Malone -- had 11 points and 15 rebounds. Powell scored 13 points and Deanna Nolan added 11.

    Mwadi Mabika scored 12 for Los Angeles. DeLisha Milton and Nikki Teasley scored 10 each.

    Detroit led 8-0 and was ahead for much of the first half. But the Sparks went on a 26-4 run that started late in the first half and ended with them ahead 48-32 early in the second. "I wasn't disappointed with how we played during that stretch, I was embarrassed,'' Laimbeer said. "They came out and showed who they were, but we came back and showed what we're trying to be all about by coming back.''

    Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press


    Team Stat Comparison

      Los Angeles Tulsa
    Points 78 87
    FG Made-Attempted 28-69 (.000) 31-74 (.000)
    3P Made-Attempted 5-11 (.455) 6-15 (.400)
    FT Made-Attempted 17-29 (.000) 19-31 (.000)
    Rebounds (Offensive-Total) 15-40 11-38
    Assists 10 24
    Turnovers 20 16
    Steals 10 8
    Blocks 2 4
    Fast Break Points 2 4
    Fouls (Tech/Flagrant) 34 (0/0) 22 (1/0)