87 - 94 Final - OT
  for this game

Nolan keys Shock's OT win to clinch playoff spot

Sep 11, 2009 - 3:19 AM AUBURN HILLS, Mich.(AP) -- Despite winning three championships in the previous six seasons, the Detroit Shock don't make things easy on themselves.

Needing a win to move on the verge of clinching a playoff berth Thursday night, the Shock led the last-place Liberty by 14 points after three quarters, only to see New York take a lead with 4:42 to play.

Kara Braxton, though, scored the next five points and grabbed three key rebounds to help Detroit force overtime, and Deanna Nolan hit back-to-back 3-pointers in the extra period to help the Shock (17-16) pull out a 94-87 victory.

"That's exactly how we are - it's never simple," said Nolan, who finished with 34 points. "This was one of those games where a team has nothing to lose and just plays great down the stretch."

Nolan went 3-for-19 as the Shock blew a five-point lead in the last two minutes of a loss in Minnesota on Wednesday night, but made up for it on Thursday. She hit 11-of-17 shots, including 6-of-11 3-pointers.

"I couldn't hit either side of the ocean in Minnesota, so I wanted to come out and make some shots tonight," she said. "We knew what we were doing wrong tonight, and we were able to fix it."

New York, playing without Janel McCarville (ankle), shot 77 percent from the floor in the fourth quarter, but only scored three points in overtime.

"That fourth quarter was very disheartening," Detroit coach Rick Mahorn said. "At some point, there's nothing a coach can do - the players have to decide if they want it bad enough. Luckily, we pulled it out, and we'll take it."

The defending champion Shock secured a return to the postseason after starting 9-14 when Chicago beat Indiana.

"At some point, I'll look at the standings and see if we're in or not, but right now I don't care," he said. "We've got a lot of things to fix if we want to do anything in the playoffs."

Essence Carson scored a career-high 28 points for New York (12-21), which lost its fourth straight. The Liberty have already been eliminated from playoff contention.

"We were just looking to win a game," New York interim coach Anne Donovan said. "It's been a long time since we've won a game, and at this point in the season, with us not qualifying for the playoffs, we're just looking to perform well."

Carson scored 13 points in the fourth quarter - a tying 3 with 6 seconds left - despite having to be helped off the court in the third after seemingly injury a foot.

"In the fourth, we were really focused on letting them have one shot and not giving up any defensive rebounds," she said. "I really believe that fatigue set in at the end. We didn't hit a couple shots and made a couple mistakes and they really capitalized."

New York was eliminated by Detroit in the playoffs in three games in each of the last two years - in the first round in 2007 and the Eastern Conference finals last year.