In their first game without star guard Skylar Diggins, the Tulsa Shock struggled mightily, losing on the road Thursday night against the Phoenix Mercury.
Wednesday the Shock organization announced that Diggins - who injured herself in the last 44 seconds of their previous loss in Seattle - would be out for the remainder of the season due to a torn ACL.
This news could not come at a worse time for the Shock, who were on a roll, winning eight straight before losing to the Storm on Tuesday. Unfortunately, that was only the beginning.
Phoenix took control of the game early on, with Mercury center Britney Griner dominating under the basket and forward Candice Dupree taking no prisoners at the baseline. This allowed Phoenix to go on a quick 4-0 run, which gave them their first double-digit lead of the night.
A few good shots by forward Jordan Hooper, and guard Riquna Williams kept the Shock relevant; being outscored by Phoenix by only one point in the second quarter. Phoenix cooled down offensively, but their defense helped them maintain a comfortable 47-29 lead over Tulsa at the half.
A Phoenix team who struggled to find their rhythm two games ago, in Griner's season debut, was now back in full force.
The third quarter was where Tulsa would seal their fate.
Shock guard Karima Christmas put the first points on the board of the second half, which was quickly answered with an 8-foot jumper by Phoenix's Dupree.
Moreover, it did not stop there.
Phoenix was in the zone. They outscored the Shock 20-7 in the third quarter. At one point being up by as many as 32, after guard Alex Harden was left wide open for a three-point shot late in the third.
Although Phoenix went into the final quarter up by 31, a scrappy Tulsa team made the game feel like it was much closer.
The game had been physical from the beginning. Bonner had been getting fouled all game, most of the time resulting in her either on the floor or being shoved in some direction. Even the Shock's head coach Fred Williams got a technical in the second quarter for getting a little too loud with the refs.
The physicality proved to be no different in the fourth quarter. One example was the intense struggle for the ball, which involved Phoenix's forward Mistie Bass and Tulsa's Rookie Amanda Zahui B.
The Shock went to the line nine times, accounting for 13 of their 19 points in the quarter.
And who said basketball is not a contact sport?
Even with a valiant effort towards the end, the Shock just did not have the vigor to defeat the defending champions -- they clearly were deflated from the news of Diggins.
Not only were they missing Diggins' dynamic play in the backcourt, along with fellow guard Odyssey Sims who is also injured, but they were missing her leadership.
Without Diggins, it was as if the Shock were lost in a cave and could not find their way out without her guidance. And, Phoenix definitely took advantage.
The Mercury finished with 30 defensive rebounds, 21 assists, 10 blocks, they shot 56 percent from the field and got 32 points off the bench. All except one of their players scored at least once in the contest.
Both teams are on the road next in Los Angeles. The Shock will go against the Sparks Friday, while Phoenix plays them on Sunday.