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Mohegan - And so Kara Lawson's sensational summer forged on Tuesday night, all the way to a corner of the floor at Mohegan Sun Arena. She had the ball in her hands, Connecticut Sun down two, time growing desperate, desperate enough for 6,745 fans to be standing in group anxiety.
But if any more evidence is required to make Lawson's case as a Most Valuable Player candidate in the WNBA this season, she presented her case - again - with an exclamation point. Lawson, like an ambulance driver offering the quick pick-me-up, sank a 3-point field goal with 11.1 seconds remaining in overtime, allowing the Sun to avoid a rather notable upset.
The Sun had to walk barefoot over broken glass, but finally shook stubborn Tulsa 82-80. Surely, the records of the teams after the game belied what transpired on the floor. The first-place Sun: 17-5. The last-place Shock: 3-17.
"I was hoping (Tina Charles) saw me," Lawson said, alluding to her perch in the corner, all alone and waiting for the ball. "I didn't want to yell because she might not hear me and the person in the lane not guarding me might come to guard me. As soon as our eyes locked, I knew she'd pass it."
Lawson's 3 preceded the game's final play, Ivory Latta's errant, off-balance shot as time expired.
"I knew it was in," Lawson said of her shot. "It was a wide open 3. I'm supposed to make those."
She did. And she didn't merely give the Sun a victory, but coach Mike Thibault a happy 30th wedding anniversary present. It was his reward for a long night of exasperation, agitation and perspiration.
"Kara doesn't have any fear," Thibault said. "Great players want to take big shots."
The Sun trailed 80-79 with 18 seconds left, following Temeka Johnson's layup.
The Sun trailed in the closing seconds of regulation, too, until Kalana Greene's rebound basket with 13 seconds left. Latta missed a baseline shot at the horn to force overtime.
"We knew Tulsa was a good team," Lawson said. "We wouldn't have been disappointed with losing to them because of their record, but because of the mental mistakes we made."
Renee Montgomery scored 16 points off the bench for the Sun, while Tina Charles battled double teams all night and scored 13. Allison Hightower, who scored five points in overtime, had 12 points and Mistie Mims had 11 points and 11 rebounds.
Three former Sun players tortured their old team for the Shock: Jennifer Lacy scored 14, Amber Holt had 12 and Chante Black had 10 with five rebounds. Johnson scored 14 and Hodges added 13.
"Tulsa played great," Thibault said. "They have a lot of quick little players who can shoot. They play hard. We'll probably take away a lot from this game. As badly as we gave up some shots by doing some uncharacteristic things, we kept our poise in overtime. Still a great win."