The Tulsa Shock started strong in its first contest at the BOK Center in 2011. Well, at least started even with the San Antonio Silver Stars.
Tulsa and San Antonio played back and forth basketball for the first six minutes and nine seconds of the first half. Then a basket from Becky Hammon gave the Silver Stars the lead for good with the score at 13-12. After that, the wheels fell off. Tulsa scored just four points through the next five minutes while San Antonio put up 13.
The Silver Stars went on a 16-5 run in the second quarter before Andrea Riley drained two threes to give the Shock half of the second period production in the last minute of the quarter. The second swish, a SportsCenter worthy shot from nearly half court beat the halftime buzzer as the crowd erupted. But the score? 48-28 in favor of San Antonio.
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The Tulsa offense was discombobulated and nearly non-existent at times, as the team shot 29.4 percent from the field. The defense was just as rough and tumble, allowing San Antonio to sink 57.6 percent of its shot attempts, and 5-of-9 tries from 3-point range.
"You've got to make shots in order to get your defense set and we're just not making any shots," head coach Nolan Richardson said. "We dig a hole and then it gets bigger and bigger and every once in a while they go on their own to try to correct and it's not happening. If we could only make a shot every now and then. You walk in the dressing room, you're shooting probably less than 30 percent at halftime. The other night, we were three out of 18. You've got to make some shots and so far we haven't done that."
The second half wasn't any kinder to the Shock, as the score bloomed to San Antonio's largest lead of the night near the end of the third quarter. The Silver Stars built a 77-42 advantage and people started wondering if Tulsa would break 50. Many of the crowd of 7,509 there to see the home opener started dispersing out of the arena and onto the streets of Tulsa.
The Shock started the fourth on a mission to make the game a little more respectable, going on a 12-2 run that featured back-to-back buckets from rookie Chastity Reed to cut the lead to 79-54. San Antonio's hot had continued to the final buzzer though, as the Silver Stars picked up the 93-62 victory and left many fans shaking their heads at the play of Tulsa.
Not just fans, though - head coach Nolan Richardson was surprised at the lack of offensive firepower and defensive presence on the court as well.
Shock head coach Nolan Richardson expresses his disappointment in Friday's loss
"I don't know if they gave up. I think they gave out a lot more than they gave up," Richardson said. "After a while you can only give so much. You're playing a game and then all of the sudden you're not playing that game anymore. You're playing for what's going to happen the next day or in the future."
The players expressed their frustration, embarrassment and disappointment after the debacle on the court.
Frustration was visibly evident in rookie sensation Liz Cambage as she got called for a technical foul midway through the second quarter after a blocking a shot put up by San Antonio rookie Danielle Robinson.
"She shot the ball and came into me and grabbed my leg and tried to pull me down," Cambage recalled. "I just said 'get off me', but ... it was a bit heated, but what can you do. What can you do in a heated moment."
The embarrassment was felt in the locker room as players hung their heads.
"I feel like this team, we're embarrassed," Andrea Riley said. "We work so hard in practice and for it not to come to pay off, especially in front of this great crowd. I think we haven't been carrying over in practice to the game and that's what we have to do. I think we have a great supporting cast and I think we just have to learn from it, but it does hurt."
The disappointment could be seen and heard in the on-air voice of Shanna Crossley, Shock player-turned-commentator after being sidelined with an injury this season.
"After the season we had last year, starting off as they are right now, I know that hurts some," Crossley said after the game. "I know that it's not fun, it gets hard to motivate and constantly come back time and time again. But they've got to stay tough, they've got to stick together, they've got to have faith in each other. That's all they've got.
"This is who I'm rooting for, this is where my heart is right now, this is where I'm working, living so of course I want Tulsa to succeed, whether I'm on the floor physically or not. I hurt for them, because I know what it feels like."
Richardson is disappointed not only in the performance on the court, but the impression that the team left with the fans in the stands for the first time in the 2011 season.
"It was very disappointing to me because - this is what I addressed our girls about - I've been coaching this game for many, many years and to come in and to disappoint our fans with the way we played is something that really bothers me," Richardson said. "I'm just bothered to that point. You don't ever want your fans to go away thinking that this is the way it's going to be. And it's not going to be this way. But you can't say it's not this way right now because the fans witnessed what we did tonight."
Tulsa's next shot to turn these feelings around comes on the road at Connecticut Sunday afternoon. After a stop in Indiana the Shock return for a trio of home games where they hope the fans will have reason to cheer.
"I want it so bad for them," Crossley said.
So do I Shanna, so do I.