Tulsa Shock guard Skylar Diggins will miss the remainder of the season with a torn anterior cruciate ligament, the team announced Wednesday.
Diggins suffered the injury to her right knee with 44 seconds remaining in Tulsa’s game against the Seattle Storm on Sunday night at the BOK Center. She fell to the floor while chasing a rebound and stayed there for several minutes as trainers tended to her leg, then she walked to the bench on her own power with no visible limp. She did not return to the game.
Diggins will undergo reconstructive surgery, but the date for that has not been determined.
“I’m focused on getting healthy and stepping on the court even stronger,” Diggins said in a news release Wednesday. “For the remainder of this season, I will continue to support my teammates in every way possible.”
Team president Steve Swetoha said that while Diggins is obviously disappointed, she is a competitor.
“There is no question she’ll be bigger and better when she returns for the 2016 season,” Swetoha said.
Diggins, a third-year guard out of Notre Dame, was averaging 17.8 points per game and also led the team in minutes per game with 32. The 2014 WNBA Most Improved Player of the Year was ranked in the top five in the league in scoring and assists.
“It’s a family,” Shock coach Fred Williams said. “We have a team, a family atmosphere here with the Shock, and, well, Skylar’s one of our family members that’s going to have some major medical work, and players have got to just step in and fill the void there that we’ll be losing.”
Now missing Diggins and fellow All-Star guard Odyssey Sims, the Shock is without a significant amount of firepower.
“Right now, you’re looking at losing about 37 points and about 10 assists a game between (Diggins) and Odyssey together,” Williams said. “So the combination of those two players, that’s a lot of points, a lot of assists that we’ve got to generate in a short amount of time to get back in a rhythm.”
Riquna Williams, who took Diggins’ place in the starting lineup, scored 23 points in Tuesday’s loss to Seattle. Rookie guard Brianna Kiesel has been starting in place of Sims, who has not played since the third game of the season. It will be a tall order for anybody to replace the production of Diggins and Sims.
“(Diggins) is averaging almost 18 points a game,” Swetoha said. “We’re not asking just one person to step up and replace that, we’re asking the entire team.”
Fred Williams said he thought Riquna Williams and Kiesel got off to a good start Tuesday night.
“I thought they played fairly well. When you shake up the lineup like that and have some different changes, it takes a few games for everybody to get acclimated in their new roles,” Williams said. “They learned a lot in the first game on the road. Being on the road it’s tough to really generate a lot of cohesiveness as far as you’ve got two players out for you. But I think this is going to make us even stronger.”
Tulsa’s next game is against the Mercury at 9 p.m. Thursday in Phoenix.