As the Tulsa Shock finished their season missing the playoffs for the fourth consecutive time, Riquana Williams provides hope for the franchise. A September 10 contest in San Antonio Silver Starz set the stage for the second-year guard to break the WNBA record for most points in a game.
With both franchises out of the postseason picture, pride was on the line as neither wanted to finish in last place in their division. Williams would lead the way for Tulsa with a record breaking 51 point effort that had San Antonio fans cheering. Although she admitted afterwards that she had no idea she was close to breaking the record, she accumulated a remarkable 20 points in the third quarter as Tulsa proceeded to prevail by a 98-65 tally. She would log 35 total points in the second half of the contest to go with her 16 from the previous half.
Heading into the contest, the previous record was 47 points. Said record was shared between two WNBA legends; the Phoenix Mercury’s Diana Taurasi (set on August 10, 2006 against Houston) and Aussie Lauren Jackson of the Seattle Storm (versus Washington on July 24, 2007).
A layup with 1:22 remaining in the contest tied the record as San Antonio fans at the AT&T Center kept cheering for her to get the ball. With 58 seconds left, she would surpass the record to a roar of approval from the 6,500 fans in attendance. In the second half, Tulsa outscored San Antonio by a 59-22 mark Ironically, one of her former teammates from the Miami Hurricanes was donning the silver and black of the Silver Starz; Shenise Johnson. Together at Miami, they were nicknamed “Fire and Ice”.
From the field, she was 17 for 28, while she accumulated a WNBA record eight three-pointers in the game. One of her three pointers was scored over 6’2” Shameka Christon (eight inches taller than Williams) with 1.9 seconds in the third quarter. After the game, her teammates were asking her to autograph the final box scores of the game before taking a group photo to commemorate the record breaking event.
Of note, Williams once had a better performance; a 55-point effort in high school in which she did not score any three-pointers, while accumulating the points in only three quarters.
Should Williams continue to post such strong performances, she could emerge as the steal of the 2012 WNBA Draft. With disciplinary problems in high school and at the NCAA level with the Miami Hurricanes (where she scored 2,148 career points), her draft stock slipped, leaving her available for Tulsa to claim in the second round.
The 51-point performance may be the first step in redeeming herself while staking a claim as part of the next generation of WNBA stars. Joining her on the rebuilding Shock is third overall pick in the 2013 Draft, Skylar Diggins. Having carved her legend at Notre Dame, she would add 20 points in the victory at San Antonio, providing Shock fans with hope for the future. Should anyone break Williams’ record one day, it could be the first pick of the 2013 Draft, center Brittany Griner.
Although Wililams played fewer games in 2013, she managed to start more of them. Compared to her rookie campaign, she averaged more minutes per game (22.7 compared to 20.3), while her point totals increased. Improvement was also shown in three specific percentages: field goal, free throw and three point, respectively.
Should the record one day fall, Williams can only hope it is not at the AT&T Center. Of note, it is the most points ever scored in the history of the arena, which also houses the NBA’s San Antonio Spurs. With the Shock looking to recapture the championship years from their years based in Detroit, a focused Williams may become a key piece of the rebuilding puzzle.