LOS ANGELES (AP)—Sheryl Swoopes’ career has taken her to the highest of highs and through the lowest of lows. It was only fitting that she left her mark on another piece of history Friday night.
Swoopes hit a jumper with 2.9 seconds remaining to lift Tulsa to a 77-75 victory over the Los Angeles Sparks, ending the Shock’s WNBA-record 20-game losing streak.
Lasting more than two months, the skid finally concluded thanks to the crafty Swoopes, one of just two remaining players from the league’s inaugural season in 1997.
“I’m sure no one gave us a shot to win this game,” said Swoopes, a three-time league MVP and four-time champion. “When you have one win, to win a game like this feels really good.”
It was doubly pleasing for Tulsa interim coach Teresa Edwards, who earned her first win in 16 tries since taking over for Nolan Richardson on July 10. Edwards, a member of the Naismith Hall of Fame, was presented a game ball signed by her players.
Edwards exited the locker room sporting a huge grin with her new prized possession firmly in her clutches.
“It’s unreal. It’s unbelievable,” Edwards said. “I was waiting to see if we were ever going to get one.”
Tiffany Jackson had 20 points and 11 rebounds, Ivory Latta had 18 points and Swoopes finished with 17 points and nine rebounds for Tulsa (2-25). The Shock’s only other win this season came at home against Washington on June 18.
Tulsa had also lost 22 in a row on the road, including the first 13 this season.
“We knew this team was desperate for a win,” Milton-Jones said. “Granted, they aren’t going to make the playoffs, but they are still hungry.”
The loss spoiled a festive night for Los Angeles, which announced at halftime that former star Lisa Leslie was joining the team’s ownership group.
The Shock went ahead by six points midway through the fourth, but were unable to put the Sparks away. After Milton-Jones made a layup with 26 seconds left, the Shock called timeout to set up a final play.
Tulsa put the ball in the hands of Swoopes, who drained the clock before going to work. She faked left and pulled up from the right side with a mid-range jumper that fell through.
Out of timeouts, the Sparks were forced into a long inbounds that resulted in an off-balance attempt by Milton-Jones from half court that was far off the mark.
“She may not be the same as she once was, but she hit a big shot when they needed it most,” Milton-Jones said. “It was a patented Sheryl Swoopes jumper.”
During a halftime presentation, Leslie was introduced at the Sparks’ newest part-owner. The three-time league MVP is the first former player to invest in a WNBA team. She retired in 2009 as the league’s leading scorer and rebounder.
The Sparks, who were looking for a third consecutive win, missed a chance to move within a half-game of San Antonio for the fourth and final playoff spot in the West.
Los Angeles star Candace Parker finished with seven points, ending a 32-game streak of scoring in double-figures.
Natasha Lacy drew a shooting foul with 1:57 left and made the first to draw the Sparks within a point. Lacy missed her second attempt but Milton-Jones grabbed the rebound and finished under the rim for the 71-70 lead.
Swoopes followed a pair of free throws on the other end to put the Shock up 72-71. After a Sparks’ miss, Amber Holt hit a free throw. Jackson grabbed an offensive rebound and added a free throw for the 74-71 lead with 38.4 seconds remaining.
Thompson made a layup for Los Angeles and Jackson was intentionally fouled. She hit 1 of 2 for the 75-73 advantage with 26 seconds remaining. Thompson’s basket then set up Swoopes’ game-winning sequence.
“We believed,”Swoopes said. “It was just a matter of time.”