Delle Donne scored 15 points to help the Sky beat Diggins and the Tulsa Shock 92-71 Sunday in a matchup of two of the WNBA’s top three draft picks. Epiphanny Prince had 19 points to help Chicago (3-0) extend its unbeaten start, which was of more importance to Delle Donne than any personal matchup with Diggins.
“I didn’t even think about that. I mean, Skylar’s a point guard, I’m a (forward) and it’s the Chicago Sky versus Tulsa,” Delle Donne said. “That doesn’t even cross my mind.”
Diggins, selected No. 3 by Tulsa after three Final Four appearances at Notre Dame and graduating from Washington High School in South Bend, had eight points on 3-for-10 shooting and added three assists in almost 28 minutes. Playing in front of former college coach Muffet McGraw and a large contingent of Notre Dame fans, Diggins was cheered loudly during pregame introductions and whenever she scored or entered the game.
“They were great. Notre Dame has the greatest fan base in the country and they do a great job of traveling,” Diggins said. “They’re like my family so I’m not surprised they came out like that, they’re always very supportive no matter where I am.”
However, on the court, the night wasn’t a success for Diggins, who’s shooting 26.5 percent from the floor and has 17 turnovers in her first four professional games. Tulsa (0-4) trailed 40-38 at halftime but the Sky outscored the Shock 25-13 in the third, with Delle Donne scoring seven points during the quarter.
“I’ve still got a lot to work on,” Diggins said.
Tulsa coach Gary Kloppenburg recognized that the transition from college to the WNBA won’t always be an easy one for Diggins. That transition might not be made easier by the pressure and attention on the rookie point guard, who following the game took part in a question-and-answer session with a group of fans about a half hour after the game.
“There’s a lot of other stuff going on with her,” Kloppenburg said. “I prefer to try to protect her from a lot of that extra stuff because I know she wants to be focused in on basketball and there is a lot of stuff going on outside.”
Delle Donne, drafted second overall by the Sky after two consensus All-America seasons at Delaware, shot 6 of 14 from the floor and is averaging 19.0 points.
“I think she’s handled these first three games really well,” Sky coach Pokey Chatman said. “She’s going to continue to work. We challenge her defensively because she’s out on the perimeter a lot more, and that’s been top of mind for her.”
Because of their different positions, any 1-on-1 confrontations were brief in front of an announced crowd of 6,811 that was there to see Diggins as much as the home team.
“I think that’s awesome that there’s that much attention,” Delle Donne said. “It was great to have that many people filling the stands. Even if it’s for the other team it’s still cool to play in front of that atmosphere.”
Glory Johnson scored 15 points to lead the Shock, who have lost their four games by a combined 45 points.
“We’ve got a lot of work to do still, but obviously four games in it’s not like we’re in the middle of the season,” Diggins said. “We’ve got to stay positive at this point and we can’t be hanging our heads and have bad body language and things like that. It’s a long season, we’ve got to stay pushing.”