TULSA, Okla. — Shock players and fans hung around and soaked in the atmosphere at the BOK Center well after the final buzzer on Sunday.
Rookie Brianna Kiesel scored a career-best 28 points to help the Shock beat the Phoenix Mercury 91-87 Sunday in the team’s final regular-season home game before the franchise moves to Dallas next year.
The game had no meaning for playoff seeding — Phoenix was locked into the No. 2 seed and Tulsa into the No. 3 slot, and their series will start Thursday in Phoenix. Still, the crowd of 6,064, one of the largest of the season, was boisterous on Fan Appreciation Day and stood and cheered well after the game ended.
“There’s always energy here,” Shock guard Riquna Williams said. “Even with the couple of thousand we have, they still believe in us.”
Tulsa’s fans will have at least one more chance to watch their team play. The Shock (18-16) will play the Mercury in a home playoff game Saturday. This is the franchise’s first postseason berth and first winning season since it moved from Detroit before the 2010 season.
“It means a lot for this town,” Shock guard Odyssey Sims said. “So far, so good. What better way to go to the playoffs than to go the last year right before we move?”
The Shock made the playoffs despite losing starting forward Glory Johnson for the season because of her pregnancy and starting point guard Skylar Diggins for the season early on with a torn right ACL. Both were All Stars in 2014.
The Shock lost seven straight after the announcement that the team was moving, but the team rallied to win its next six and position itself for a postseason berth. The Shock averaged 5,776 fans before the announcement that the team was moving, but the average has dropped to 4,919 since.
Still, coach Fred Williams said the fans have strong.
“People are supporting us still and saying, ‘We’re going to miss you, but we’re still going to come and see you in Dallas,'” Williams said. “That’s refreshing to know. Some fans could have took it the other way, but these fans here in Tulsa really stood by us and have done a great job of helping us making that playoff push. I thought this was a good service, to do that for them.”
Even with the ups and downs and surprises, Tulsa finished with a 12-5 home record.
“It’s amazing,” Kiesel said. “I love this organization, the fans here, the coaching, the staff — everybody here is just amazing. I’m just happy that we’re able to leave Tulsa with a playoff chance.”