With her second straight 30-point game, Skylar Diggins willed her Shock team to consecutive road wins with a gut-it-out victory against a struggling Indiana Fever team.
Coming into tonight’s game, Tulsa and Indiana had both turned their seasons around after a tough start. Without Tamika Catchings, the Fever started the season 0-3. Tulsa, adjusting to a new head coach and several new faces, took struggle a couple steps further and started 0-5. Now sitting in the midst of playoff contention, both teams could benefit from closing out a win against the other.
Early on, it looked like the Fever would be able to restore and take advantage of the Shock’s road woes, jumping out to a 32-18 at the 7:19 mark in the second quarter. The Shock responded, behind their two best players Glory Johnson and Skylar Diggins as the two combined for 10 points in a 13-2 run before the Fever took over to close the half with a 51-36 lead at the half.
The second half continued to be a battle for both teams but every time the Shock drew within striking distance, Shavonte Zellous had a response. Zellous performance was vital to Tulsa not taking this game over earlier and it proved to be important. Tulsa closed within 4 and Zellous scored on a tough turnaround with 31.3 seconds left in the third quarter to get the lead back to six. Fast forward to the forth quarter and Z’s next basket, this also happen to be the next shot she took, came with 1:18 left to give Indy a 89-84 lead.
The game got testy late as players started to embellish contact and looking to the refs for fouls with the slightest bit of contact, and it almost cost Tulsa this game. There were several possessions down the stretch where players could have turned the ball over and did miss shots expecting fouls to be called. Free throws were alternated on both ends for what seemed like forever, Diggins missing the front end of a 2-shot foul that could have cut the lead to one with 15.8 left. The Fever had been clutch so you had to wonder if that was the ending blow.
8 game seconds, or what equated to an hour real-time, later, Zellous matched Diggins and allowed the floodgates to be opened as the Shock got the ball back down 3. After receiving the ball back as the inbounder, Larkins ended up turning the corner a bit too far and Diggins was able to square up and send the game to OT. When Jen Lacy scored the first five points, the first two on a post-up, you all but knew Tulsa had stolen a W on the road.
Diggins finished with 32 to lead 4 starters in double figures for Tulsa, joined by Sims and Johnson with 20 apiece and Courtney Paris finished with another double-double: a season-high 18 points and 11 boards. Indiana was led by Zellous’ 33 and the other four starters all joined her in double digits: Christmas had 17, Coleman with 14 and Larkins and January had 12 and 11 respectively.
Indiana: It may just be me, but January and Dunn seem to be butting heads a lot. Dunn also has had some very obviously negative body language with some of the shots she’s taken or turnovers she’s had. Coleman had her best game of late and most of her damage was done in the midrange. You have to wonder if that was a concerted effort given her performance this season.