With 43.2 seconds left, Sylvia Fowles came out of the game to a standing ovation from the Connecticut Sun fans at Mohegan Sun Arena.

Let the hugs begin.

Natalie Achonwa, Lynx assistants Katie Smith and Rebekkah Brunson, and on down the bench. But the longest was for coach Cheryl Reeve.

"I was just telling her thank you," Fowles said. "I was sorry it didn't end the way we've planned it. … Because Cheryl has been everything that I needed to be successful and I'm grateful for that."

Fowles' 15-year Hall of Fame career ended Sunday with a 90-83 loss to the Sun, one that ended Minnesota's chance at a 12th consecutive WNBA playoff appearance on the final day of the regular season.

For Fowles, fittingly, it ended with a double-double (10 points, 12 rebounds), the 193rd of her career and her 101st for the Lynx.

For the Lynx (14-22), frustratingly, it ended with another game that got out of hand almost as quickly as it began. They needed a victory and some help to make the playoffs and keep Fowles' career going a little bit longer. But only 10 minutes into the game, they were down 28-14, a hole that proved too deep.

"Yep. That's unfortunate," said Reeve to start a postgame session with the media that included a few pauses to quell tears. "I don't know the answer to it. It's certainly something we were hoping wasn't going to happen. … We had hoped we were going to end the regular season in a more joyous way, give her a chance for her last game to be in the playoffs. But it wasn't meant to be."

Fowles ended up with 6,405 career points and on Sunday became the only person in WNBA history to reach 4,000 rebounds (she finished with 4,007). She amassed 721 blocks and 490 steals.

And yet, Fowles said, she left the game annoyed with herself because of her slow start to the game. "I felt I did them a disservice," said Fowles, who had seven points and four rebounds in the fourth quarter, as the Lynx trimmed a 19-point Sun lead to four. "So I was a little frustrated and emotional at the same time."

The first quarter set the tone. Using a 10-3 edge on points off turnovers, a 6-0 edge in both second-chance points and points from the free-throw line, the Sun built a 28-14 lead after one quarter. Ultimately the Sun got 10 or more points from five players, led by Alyssa Thomas' 16. Connecticut (25-11) finished with 50 points in the paint.

It would have been worse had not backup point guard Lindsay Allen scored a career-high 26 points.

Down 19 early in the fourth quarter, with the Sun starters sitting, Aerial Powers scored 11 points in a 20-5 run that brought the Lynx within four with 3:48 left. With the Sun starters back, Powers (22 points) made it a four-point game out of a timeout, but Minnesota got no closer.

With the Lynx down seven and DeWanna Bonner headed to the free-throw line, Reeve took Fowles out.

After the game ended, Fowles said she still hadn't processed all of the emotions.

"That's something I'll do later," she said. "I think most of my emotions [were] just to be grateful. The fans were amazing. I was just trying to channel all that emotion and let [her teammates] know that it wasn't the best, but to keep your head up."

Said Allen: "In typical Syl fashion, she just thanked us. For being her teammate, for supporting her throughout the season."

One that ended Sunday just short of the playoffs, for the first time in Minnesota since 2010.

"We certainly feel bad, but Syl's awfully special," Reeve said. "I might have been really resentful if I were Sylvia Fowles. For most of the season I might have been really [cranky] as a person. Syl … she's got a whole lot more love in her body than most of us.''

The Star Tribune did not travel for this game. This article was written using the television broadcast and video interviews after the game.