The Tulsa Shock have been very remarkable in the season and on Sunday, pitted against a two-time champion team, the young, energetic crew passed another stern test to take solo leadership in the West.
The Tulsa Shock emerged as one of the most exciting teams to watch in the WNBA early in the season. With youth, talent, and a system running on high octane, the perennial cellar-dwelling team is now on top of the Western Conference early in the season.
The Shock defeated the Minnesota Lynx, 86-78 Sunday at the Target Center, with the team’s key stars delivering down the stretch. Skylar Diggins led everyone with 26 points and 8 assists, shooting 3-for-4 from three-point area and 9-for-15 overall. Courtney Paris added 16 points and 11 rebounds, stamping her reign underneath the basket.
The Lynx went on to dominate their foes early in the match after attacking the basket countless times. The home team drew 9 free throw attempts in the opening quarter alone with that aggressiveness as they took a 23-15 lead.
But the Shock countered with impressive movement without the ball, finding open players mostly around the rim for easy, uncontested baskets. By the time the halftime buzzer sounded, the two squads were knotted at 38 apiece.
From there, it was a back-and-forth battle, with the Shock continuing to attack the basket relentlessly. They were also on-point with sharing the rock off double teams in the low post. In contrast, the Lynx noticeably stopped getting to the rim and settled for hurried or out-of-rhythm shots.
Tulsa took a 71-63 lead in the fourth quarter, and although the Lynx cut the deficit down to 72-69, the Shock went on pick-and-roll plays that disrupted the Lynx’s defensive rotations.
Diggins hit Paris twice in a row after the latter dove to the basket after setting ball screens on top of the key, and the center scored on both occasions to extend the lead to 76-71. A pair of triples from Diggins and Riquna Williams late in the fourth sealed the game for Tulsa, as the advantage ballooned to 82-73.
Paris shot 8-for-13 from the field; 6 of her 8 makes are assisted as she was rewarded for her timely movements without the ball. Paris would often show from the weak side when either Plenette Pierson or Karima Christmas were doubled in the low post. She also corralled 5 offensive boards with good positioning underneath the rim.
Overall, Tulsa assisted 22 of its 33 makes in a game that boiled down to execution. Williams contributed 17 points and 5 assists off the bench for the 6-1 Shock.
Minnesota (5-2) drew 18 points and 9 rebounds from Rebekkah Brunson while Maya Moore added 16 points, 8 rebounds, and 6 assists although the reigning season MVP struggled from the field, shooting only 5-for-14.