“Jia was phenomenal,” Silver Stars coach Dan Hughes said. “We were able to rest a lot of our starters and were strong in the fourth quarter. That was the difference.”
San Antonio raced out to a 29-15 lead at the end of the first quarter. Tulsa turned up the pressure on defense and had a 15-6 run to pull to 35-30 with 6:51 to play in the second quarter. The Shock, who scored 31 points in the period, ended the quarter on a 16-11 run to tie the score at 46 at halftime.
Tulsa then led 63-62 heading to the fourth.
“They are a good backcourt,” Tulsa coach Gary Kloppenburg said of the Silver Stars. “You’ve got Hammon who can shoot from anywhere and Robinson who can make the mid-range shot. And with Perkins off the bench, they are probably the best backcourt in the league.
“But we were able to get our running game going and we got some easy baskets. We struggled against their zone. I’m proud of our team. San Antonio is a veteran team and we’re still a young, growing team.”
Hughes said he didn’t want to get into a foot race with the Shock.
“Tulsa plays so well off the bounce,” Hughes said. “It was hard for us to keep the ball in front of us. They are good basketball team. They will beat people. Until the fourth quarter, we had a tough time. Defensively, (Tulsa) forces you to play faster than you want to. They are really aggressive on defense which is why they lead the league in forced turnovers.”
Even after his team took a 14-point first half lead, Hughes warned the Silver Stars of Tulsa’s ability to rally.
“I told our team this would be a game of streaks,” he said. “I told them we would make a run and they would make a run. We just had to be ready and we had to make the last one.”
They did, closing out the final period with a 27-16 decisive spurt.
“We don’t get rattled too much,” said Robinson, who led Oklahoma to two Final Four appearances. “As a point guard, you have to keep the team under control. You can’t afford to get rattled. We’ve been down games before this year, so when we got down tonight, we knew we had the chemistry to come back.”