After a physical and disheartening loss to the team they're pursuing for the final Western Conference playoff berth, the San Antonio Silver Stars have nothing to do but try and get back on track in the increasingly desperate chase.
That might not be easy to do Friday night against the Tulsa Shock, who despite being in last place have shown considerable improvement lately.
San Antonio (10-18) defeated Seattle 70-64 to open a critical home-and-home set Sunday but couldn't complete a badly needed sweep Tuesday, falling 72-71. The loss left the Silver Stars needing to win almost all of their remaining six games to have any chance of catching the fourth-place Storm.
San Antonio outscored Seattle 7-2 in the final 23.8 seconds Tuesday. Shenise Johnson made a 3-pointer, then stole the inbounds pass from Tina Thompson and fed Jia Perkins for a 3 that pulled San Antonio within a point with 1.7 seconds remaining.
Perkins stole the ensuing inbounds pass, but the contest was ruled over after a chaotic sequence in which the game clock didn't start.
"We just ran out of time," said Perkins, who had team highs of 17 points and six steals.
That could also end up describing the Silver Stars' season unless they get on a roll and the Storm struggle down the stretch. San Antonio has lost three of four.
"We're gonna keep playing until we're told that it's time to go home, and that's the last game of the season," Perkins said. "We love playing this game, we're competitors, so right now we're just gonna keep competing and just see what happens."
The Silver Stars' previous loss came last Friday by a 73-67 score at Tulsa, which has put together a relatively impressive 2-2 stretch. The Shock (9-19) won at WNBA-leading Minnesota on Aug. 16, lost by three to Phoenix on Aug. 20 just before beating San Antonio and nearly knocked off another West powerhouse on the road Sunday, falling 90-88 in double overtime to Los Angeles.
Tulsa led the Sparks by 19 after three quarters, but lost leading scorer Liz Cambage to a left ankle sprain with 6:35 remaining in regulation. Candice Wiggins, who forced the second OT on a 3-pointer with 7.9 seconds remaining, paced the Shock with 20 points.
"It feels like we won this game, honestly," Wiggins said. " ... I'm so proud of us - how we fought. Two overtimes against a really tough team. They're right there in the playoff hunt. We battled, but it's sad.
"But again, I don't feel sad, because I'm really proud of how we played."
The status of Cambage and the Silver Stars' Johnson, who received a crushing elbow from Thompson to her neck and jaw, is uncertain for Friday.
Cambage scored 20 points against San Antonio last week and Wiggins had 16. The Silver Stars took the first meeting of the season 69-65 at home Aug. 4 behind 18 points from Perkins and 19 and nine assists from currently injured guard Danielle Robinson.