Stars sink Shock: San Antonio routs Tulsa in its home opener
BY KELLY HINES World Sports Writer
Saturday, June 11, 2011
6/11/11 at 6:06 AM
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The BOK Center felt nothing like home to Tulsa Shock rookie Elizabeth Cambage on Friday night.
A 6-foot-8 center from Australia, Cambage walked off the court in tears after the Shock dropped its home opener and third straight game 93-62 to San Antonio.
"It was already embarrassing being down by that much, but being on the bench and looking up and seeing everyone leave early ... it's so hard to feel like that," she said. "We've got to get up and practice and get our fans back."
Playing in front of an announced crowd of 7,509, Cambage struggled against physical defenders in the post, hitting only two field goals.
"She takes abuse in the paint, where they push and shove," coach and general manager Nolan Richardson said. "She's got to get used to that. She's got to learn to play through it. I think she will.
"She's a youngster who's learning to play professional ball in the United States."
A 19-year-old who was taken second overall in April's draft, Cambage entered the game averaging 17 points and 12.5 rebounds in Tulsa's two losses, including one last week at San Antonio. Twenty seconds after Friday's tipoff, she sank a jumper to give the Shock an early lead.
But after picking up two fouls in the first quarter and a technical midway through the second, Cambage sat on the bench for the remainder of the half. While out, the Silver Stars went on a 17-5 run.
Andrea Riley drained a 35-foot buzzer-beater in front of her former Oklahoma State coach, Kurt Budke, to cut the deficit to 48-28 and prompt the loudest cheers of the evening.
After halftime, San Antonio turned on the offensive fireworks, knocking down six straight field goals. The Shock couldn't find rhythm on its end of the court, and at one point Cambage slammed her hand on the court in frustration after being fouled.
"I know what I need to work on," she said. "I need my shots to start going in and just be stronger."
The Silver Stars' lead stretched to 77-34 near the end of the third quarter on a pair of free throws from rookie Danielle Robinson, a former All-American at the University of Oklahoma who had eight points and four assists.
Despite the struggles, Cambage finished with 12 points, hitting all eight of her free throws. Kayla Pedersen also scored 12, and Ivory Latta added 10.
Tulsa missed the leadership and offensive production of Amber Holt, who is out up to six weeks with a broken left thumb. The team shot 34.8 percent from the field.
"It was like a nightmare," Latta said. "But we've still got to keep going. We can't get our heads down too much.
"We've still got how many games? Like 31, 32 to go. We can turn it around some way."
Kelly Hines 918-581-8452
Shock center Elizabeth Cambage charges the lane against the San Antonio Silver Stars Friday night at the BOK Center. KEVIN PYLE/ For The Tulsa World
Shock forward Kayla Pedersen defends San Antonio's Jia Perkins during Friday's game. Pedersen had 12 points for the Shock. KEVIN PYLE/For The Tulsa World