Riquna Williams

Riquana Williams hits game-winning jumper

TULSA, Okla. -- Riquna Williams' step-back jumper put Tulsa up by two with 10.9 seconds left, and the Shock held off the Seattle Storm 93-89 on Sunday to tie the franchise record with their eighth straight victory.

The Shock also had an eight-game winning streak while based in Detroit in 2003.

Karima Christmas' 3-pointer with 44.9 seconds gave Tulsa (8-1) its first lead in nearly 5 minutes at 89-87. Skylar Diggins, who finished with 31 points, banged her knee on the play and had to leave the game.

Ramu Tokashiki tied it for the Storm (2-7), and Williams hit the go-ahead jumper with her foot on the 3-point line.

Seattle's Renee Montgomery missed a long-distance attempt with time running out. Christmas grabbed the rebound and added two free throws with less than a second remaining.

Williams and Plenette Pierson each added 19 points for Tulsa. Pierson surpassed 3,500 career points.

Tokashiki and Jewell Loyd each had 21 points for the Storm. It was a career high for Loyd.

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Riquana Williams back from injury

One player who was on the court at Edison High School in front of about 200 cheering fans was guard Riquna Williams, who missed all but 11 games last season with a knee injury. She was happy to be back and felt good on the floor.

“It feels amazing, I’ve been waiting on this day for like five months now,” said Riquna Williams, who, unlike most of her teammates, did not play elsewhere over the winter, opting instead to rest the knee. “No knee brace, no knee sleeves, no pain, no aches.”

Fred Williams noted Riquna Williams wasn’t 100 percent, but he was happy to have her back on the court and looked forward to seeing what she could accomplish when she finally was.

“She’s still I think about 95 percent for us,” coach Williams said. “She’s going to have to still work her way into getting that shooting touch going, but she showed some good things today for us, penetrating to the basket. Her outside jumper was really on, and I think once she gets her first step back like she used to, she’s going to be a dynamite player for us.”

Riquna Williams, who set the WNBA record with 51 points in one game in 2013, averaged 15.6 points per game in 2013 and formed a potent backcourt early on last year alongside Odyssey Sims and Skylar Diggins. She’s looking forward to duplicating that same chemistry this season.

“My presence was missed,” Riquna Williams said of last year, when the Shock ended up finishing 12-22 and missing the playoffs. “We all knew that, we all understood it, but now everyone is back, we’re all good to go, everyone is healthy.”

Riquna believes this is the year everything comes together for Tulsa, which has yet to make the playoffs in its five WNBA seasons.

“I think this is the year, the playoff push,” she said. “We just have to keep pushing, one day at a time, one practice at a time, one game at a time.”

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Shock's Riquna Williams Named WNBA Sixth Woman Of The Year

TULSA, Oklahoma - Tulsa Shock guard Riquna Williams was named the 2013 WNBA Sixth Woman of the Year, the WNBA announced today. Williams received 17 votes from a national panel of 39 sportswriters and broadcasters to earn the award. Minnesota Lynx Monica Wright (13) finished second in the voting.

In 27 games, including 21 as a reserve, Williams averaged 15.6 points – a five-point increase from her rookie season last year and the second-highest average on the Shock – 2.4 rebounds, 1.8 assists and 1.0 steals in 22.7 minutes per game. The second-year guard from the University of Miami tied for fourth overall in the league in free throw percentage, converting 90 percent of her attempts from the free throw line. She also topped the 20-point plateau nine times, including a WNBA-record 51-point explosion late in the season.

Williams' record-setting game came on Sept. 8 in a 98-65 win over the San Antonio Silver Stars. She shot 17-for-28 from the field, including 8-for-14 from three-point land. Williams scored eight points in each of the first two quarters before erupting for 20 in the third and 15 in the fourth. The 51-point effort surpassed the previous mark of 47 set by Phoenix's Diana Taurasi in 2006 and Seattle's Lauren Jackson in 2007. Williams earned the first Western
Conference Player of the Week Award in her career following that performance.

An All-Rookie Team selection in 2012, Williams finished her inaugural WNBA campaign ranked third among rookies in both assists (2.1 apg) and steals (1.55 spg), and fourth in scoring (10.5 ppg).

In honor of being named the Sixth Woman of the Year, Williams will receive $5,000 and a specially-designed trophy from Tiffany & Co.

Below are the results of the 2013 WNBA Sixth Woman of the Year voting and a list of previous winners:

17 -  Riquna Williams (Tulsa Shock)
13 - Monica Wright (Minnesota Lynx)
7 - Tiffany Hayes (Atlanta Dream)
1 - Jantel Lavender (Los Angeles Sparks)

2013 - Riquna Williams Tulsa Shock
2012 -  Renee Montgomery Connecticut Sun
2011 - DeWanna Bonner Phoenix Mercury
2010 - DeWanna Bonner Phoenix Mercury
2009 - DeWanna Bonner Phoenix Mercury
2008 - Candice Wiggins Minnesota Lynx
2007* - Plenette Pierson Detroit Shock

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Shock's Williams Is WNBA Western Conference Player Of The Week

TULSA, Oklahoma - Riquana Williams of the Tulsa Shock was named the WNBA's Western Conference Player of the Week for games played Monday, Sept. 2 through Sunday, Sept. 8.

Williams capped her week by scoring a WNBA-record 51 points in San Antonio on Sunday. For the week, she led the league in scoring with 34.5 points per game and tied for first in free-throw percentage, converting all 13 opportunities from the charity stripe. This marks her first Player of the Week honor.

Williams' record-setting game to beat San Antonio featured 17-for-28 shooting from the field including 8-for-14 from three-point land. She scored eight points in each of the first two quarters before erupting for 20 in the third and 15 in the fourth as the Shock emerged victorious by a 98-65 final score. The 51-point effort surpassed the previous mark of 47 set by Phoenix's Diana Taurasi in 2006 and Seattle's Lauren Jackson in 2007. Two days earlier, Williams scored 18 points while pulling down seven rebounds in a losing effort to Los Angeles, 74-70.

The Shock have two games remaining this season, both against the Seattle Storm. First up is a home contest at 7 p.m. on Thursday.

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proCane Riquna Williams sets WNBA record with 51 points

SAN ANTONIO (AP) — Riquna Williams has always been able to score points in bunches, never though at the rate she did Sunday to set the WNBA record.
Williams broke the league's scoring mark with 51 points to help the Tulsa Shock rout the San Antonio Silver Stars 98-65 on Sunday.

The second-year guard out of Miami surpassed the previous record of 47 points set by Phoenix's Diana Taurasi against Houston on Aug. 10, 2006 and matched by Seattle's Lauren Jackson against Washington on July 24, 2007.

"It's amazing, I'm still speechless," Williams said. "It feels great. This is only my second year in the league, so to capture that at such a young age and such a young player, it's amazing. And I shot it pretty well; it wasn't a bad shooting night."

Williams, who came into the game averaging 14.4 points, was 17 for 28 from the field and hit eight 3-pointers for Tulsa (11-21). The 23-year-old had 20 points in the third quarter after scoring 16 in the first half.

"She can flat out shoot the ball," said San Antonio's Shenise Johnson, Williams' teammate at Miami. "She had that LeBron (James) look, that Kobe (Bryant) look in her eye. Everybody moved out of the way and was out there getting it done."

With Williams approaching the record, fans were cheering for her to get the ball in the final minutes of the game on every possession. She tied the mark with a layup with 1:22 left in the game and then broke it with jumper 24 seconds later.

Williams added two emotional free throws with 5 seconds left for her final points after colliding knee-to-knee with Chelsea Poppins. The fans' reaction was almost too much for Williams, a native of Pahokee, Fla., whose population of less than 6,000 was surpassed by the 6,650 in attendance.

"I kind of got a little teary (due to the fans' cheering) even after taking the hit, so it was a combination," she said. "I was able to hide it a little. But it's great. I'm a small-town kid; this is my dream come true. I never thought I would be at this point."

The 5-foot-5 Williams had 16 points in the first half, continually rising high above taller defenders for 3s and long jumpers. She hit a 21-foot jumper over Jia Perkins before draining a 3 to pull Tulsa within 33-25 with 6 minutes remaining in the second quarter.

Perkins scored 21 points to lead San Antonio (11-21) and Johnson added 18.

Skylar Diggins added 20 points and Tiffany Jackson-Jones had 10 for Tulsa.

Tulsa took control in the second half outscoring San Antonio 59-22. Williams had 35 herself in the final 20 minutes.

"We didn't show heart, we didn't show pride," Johnson said. "We didn't represent what was on the front of our jerseys. Honestly, we're all embarrassed."

Williams, who scored 2,148 points at Miami, had 20 points in the third quarter, going 5 for 7 on 3s. Williams had a look of bemusement after soaring over the 6-foot-2 Shameka Christon for a 3 with 1.9 seconds left in the third, giving the Shock a 71-58 lead.

"That was an amazing performance," Diggins said. "It was just so great being on the court with her. Once she got started, when she got to 20, then she got to 25, 28, I said, 'Make it 40. Get 40.' And she just looked at me, and then she got 40. We were like, oh my gosh, she might get 50.

"She just got it through the natural flow of the offense. We weren't isolating her or anything. She had the hot hand and was catching it on swings and she was just making plays."

Williams hit consecutive 3s to give Tulsa a 59-54 lead.

"In a zone, don't think," Williams said. "When I think, I miss."

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Riquana Williams Leads Tulsa in Loss

TULSA, Oklahoma - The Tulsa Shock lost its sixth straight game Saturday night, falling to the Minnesota Lynx, 86-75.

Lindsey Whalen scored 25 points to lead all scorers and also dished out 11 assists. Maya Moore added 22 for the Lynx and Rebekkah Brunson had a double-double with 17 points and 12 rebounds.

Riquana Williams led Tulsa with 22 points for the game, while Nicole Powell added 16. Liz Cambage scored 13 points and had eight rebounds.

Rookie Skylar Diggins went scoreless for the first time in her rookie season and left the game with 3:12 remaining with an ankle injury. Tulsa coach Gary Kloppenburg said after the game it didn't appear to be a serious injury.

Poor shooting and poor defense once again doomed the Shock. Tulsa shot just 38.8 percent from the field for the game and allowed the Lynx to shoot an astonishing 67 percent in the first half. Minnesota used that hot shooting start to lead by as many as 15 points in the first 20 minutes.

Minnesota grabbed a 31-17 lead with 8:09 left in the first half, but four straight 3-pointers from Tulsa, including three from Williams, cut the lead to six in just 90 seconds. The Lynx responded with a strong close to the half to lead 51-37.

Tulsa was unable to prevent Minnesota from blowing the game open in the second half, as the Lynx took a 64-43 lead with 5:43 left in the third quarter. The Shock cut the lead to 13 by the end of the quarter, but Minnesota pushed it back to 22 in the fourth quarter.

The Shock played Saturday's game without Glory Johnson, who suffered a neck injury on Thursday against Los Angeles.

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Shenise Johnson, Riquna Williams follow dreams to Europe

Riquna “BayBay’’ Williams, fresh off her rookie WNBA season, is packing up her belongings in Tulsa, Okla., this week and heading to her new job in Kosice, Slovakia, a town known for the world’s second-oldest marathon and a 14th-century Gothic cathedral.

Shenise “Moe’’ Johnson, the San Antonio Silver Stars’ first-round pick in the April WNBA Draft, will soon be off to Sopron, Hungary, the birthplace of famous composer Franz Liszt.

Life as a professional basketball player is about to get really interesting (and a bit scary) for the former University of Miami stars.

Neither player has ever set foot in Europe. Each will be the only American on her team. Both expect to be homesick. But the financial reality of women’s basketball leaves them little choice if they want to pursue their passion.

The average WNBA rookie salary is $36,570, the league minimum for a veteran is $54,000 and the maximum is $105,000. The NBA league minimum, by comparison, is $473,604 and the average NBA salary is $5 million, compared with $72,000 for the WNBA. The WNBA season lasts only four months, so the vast majority of the players head overseas to make the bulk of their annual income.

Twenty-eight WNBA players spent last winter in the Turkish league. Other popular destinations for WNBA players are Israel and Russia. The European league pays American players a sixth-month salary ranging anywhere from $40,000 to $500,000 for superstars such as Diana Taurasi and Candace Parker.

Those paychecks come with a price, however. American players have to leave the comfort of their country to play far away from family and friends. They are typically the only American on their team, so there are language and cultural barriers to overcome. And there are long bus rides. Lots of them.

Williams admitted last week she knows nothing at all about Slovakia or her new team. In fact, she didn’t even know the name of the team. Turns out she is playing for the Kosice Good Angels and is listed as the starting point guard on the team’s website. She will be playing alongside complete strangers named Lucia Kupcikova, Beata Jaoscikova, Tijana Krivacevic, Miljana Borjoric and Helena Sverrisdottin. Two are from Slovakia, two from Serbia, and one from Iceland. Williams has no idea if any of them, or their coaches, speak English.

“This is what I have to do to follow my dream,” Williams said. “At some point, if you’re a woman playing basketball, you have to go overseas. We really have no choice. I’m nervous, definitely. I have no idea what to expect. But I hear they take care of you, give you a nice apartment. I signed for only three months instead of six in case I get too homesick.”

Williams grew up in Pahokee and was known to get homesick during her four years at UM. Getting acclimated to life in Tulsa was no easy feat, but at least they have Applebee’s, Olive Garden and a cozy soul food place named Sweet Lisa’s. Slovakia will feel like Mars.

Johnson has traveled to Thailand with USA Basketball but never to Europe. She is joining a Sopron team whose roster includes Zsofia Fegyverneky, Sara Krnjic, Fanni Szabo, Vivien Borondy and Zsófia Licskai. The club finished runner-up in the Hungarian playoffs last season. That’s about all Johnson knows.
“I’m sure it will be rough the first couple of weeks, and I’ll feel really far from everything I know, but I’m excited to embrace the culture and learn,” Johnson said. “I’ll find a way to adjust. I’m a chameleon.”

That said, Johnson wishes she could stay on U.S. soil.

“Nobody wants to be forced to go live so far away,” she said. “It’s also hard on our bodies to have to play all year-round. We don’t get a four-month break like the guys do. But I’m doing what I love, and I’ll go wherever I have to.”

Williams and Johnson have both struggled at times this summer as they adjust to the WNBA game and new roles. Johnson started only one of 34 games for San Antonio (20-13), averaged 17.1 minutes, 5.6 points and 3.9 rebounds. Williams started three of 33 games for the Shock (9-25), averaged 20.3 minutes, 10.5 points and 2.1 rebounds.

“I haven’t been playing my best basketball at all, and that’s frustrating,” Johnson said. “I’m not playing as confident or as free as I did at UM. I have never had to come off the bench in my whole life, so that’s new.

“I’m also being asked to be a spot-up shooter here, and I’m used to creating. So I have to adjust to that. The half-court game is quicker in the pros. My coaches and teammates have confidence in me, so I have to try to relax and have fun and my game will come back.”

Johnson speaks to UM coach Katie Meier every few weeks and gets encouragement from those conversations.

“She tells me I’m at my best when I’m smiling and loose, and she says I look too quiet out there, she doesn’t see me being a leader,” Johnson said. “Being a rookie, I don’t want to step on any toes. I’m sure with time I’ll get more comfortable.”

Williams had a rough first half of the season but came around after the Olympic break.

“I’m not the superstar I was at Miami, I’m a rookie,” Williams said. “The game is faster, more intense and physical. My role at UM was to score. Now, it’s different, and it took time to get used to it.”

Tulsa assistant coach Kathy McConnell-Miller said the staff is very impressed with Williams and had no reservations drafting the feisty guard, who was suspended from the UM team for the 2012 NCAA Tournament for behavior detrimental to the team.

“I was very familiar with BayBay as a college player and know what her potential is,” McConnell-Miller said. “We did our homework, she took ownership of her behavior, and there hasn’t been a single incident on or off the court with us. Nobody outworks her, especially this last month. She is in the gym an hour before practice, and an hour and a half after. She is on the first bus over on game days. And she is practicing at game speed, which she wasn’t doing before. She is loved by her teammates. I’m really proud of her.”

Williams left the UM team on bad terms, and does not keep in touch with Johnson. They have seen each other when their teams played, said quick hellos, but that’s it.

“It’s a job,” Williams said. “I can’t get caught up in the Miami stuff. We’re definitely not friends. We’re two different people, always were, and that’s fine. It doesn’t bother me. She does her thing, I do mine.”

Johnson said she tried to reach out, but Williams wasn’t interested.

“I have no ill will toward her,” Johnson said. “I think it’s sad how things ended. It would be nice if we could talk some time because we’re both probably going through the same rookie frustrations, but she obviously doesn’t want to have a relationship with me, so I have to treat her like just another player.”
One to Slovakia. One to Hungary. It’s a job.

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