Diggins and Shock off to slow start
NEWARK, N.J. (AP) — Skylar Diggins hasn’t lost much in her basketball career until now. She doesn’t plan on letting that trend continue much longer.
With defeats in her first three pro games, she’s already had more of them than during all of her senior season at Notre Dame.
“I’m sick of losing,” Diggins said after the Shock fell 78-76 in overtime to the New York Liberty on Friday night. “It’s great that we’re right there, but we’ve just got to get over the hump.”
It was the second straight overtime loss for Tulsa, which lost its home opener to Washington on Monday. While the Shock didn’t have much of a chance in OT against the Mystics, they went back and forth with the Liberty on Friday night.
Cappie Pondexter hit a jumper with five-tenths of a second left to put New York up two. The Shock had a final chance, but Glory Johnson’s lay-in — on a perfect pass from Diggins — was ruled to have come just after time expired.
Diggins is averaging 10.3 points and 5.3 assists in the first three games, but is shooting only 26 percent from the field.
“I’ve got to do a better job,” Diggins said. “I’ve got to do things better.”
Losing is something new for Diggins. The Irish dropped just 20 games in her four years, including a 35-2 mark her senior year. In high school, Diggins’ team only lost seven games.
She never suffered a three-game losing streak in either place and laughed trying to remember the last time it happened.
“I was like 10 I think,” she said. “It’s been a long while.”
Diggins had a tough game against New York, scoring just seven points. She went scoreless in front of rap superstar Jay-Z, who was sitting courtside next to Diggins’ parents for the first 1½ quarters before leaving to catch a flight. Jay-Z’s sports agency Roc Nation signed Diggins in April and gave her a new white Mercedes when she graduated from Notre Dame several weeks ago. They threw a “Welcome to New York” party for her at Jay-Z’s 40/40 club on Thursday night.
Diggins didn’t want to talk after the loss about Jay-Z’s appearance at the game, choosing to focus on basketball.
She has already become the face of a franchise struggling for an identity since it moved to Tulsa from Detroit in 2010. The team hasn’t come close to matching the success it had in the Motor City when the Shock won three WNBA titles. Tulsa has only won 18 games total since the move.
Diggins hopes to change that.
Before she even stepped on the court, the WNBA pushed her as one of its stars. She’s already drawing fans on the road as she received a loud warm ovation from the Liberty fans before the game Friday night and they were constantly screaming her name whenever the 5-foot-9 guard wandered over to the sideline during a stoppage in play.
“She’s exciting to watch and a really great player,” said 12-year-old Sarah Davis.
Diggins’ next chance for that first professional win will come on Sunday at Chicago. If they don’t win then, Tulsa doesn’t play until next Friday in Seattle.
The Shock may be without star center Liz Cambage, who injured her left ankle in the overtime. She left the arena on crutches and said she expects to be out at least a week.
“We’re a work in progress,” Tulsa coach Gary Kloppenburg said. “We have a lot of young players that haven’t played together. We’ve only had a few practices. I feel like we’re the type of team that could be pretty good down the road.”
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