The narrative was suppose to be all about the debut of Tulsa Shock point guard Skylar Diggins, but the Dream didn’t get the memo.
The Dream stifled Diggins with multiple defenders for much of the night en route to a 98-81 victory over the Shock in the season opener. Diggins finished with 15 points in 34 minutes, but committed five turnovers and looked rattled for much of the contest. She shot 31 percent (4-for-13) from the field.
“I thought she played a really solid game,” Dream coach Fred Williams said of Diggins. “We all respect every rookie player that comes into the league with a high profile like she has. She did a great job tonight.”
Instead, Dream second-year player Tiffany Hayes stole the show. The left-handed slasher came off the bench firing — scoring in transition and half-court sets — to lead the Dream with 21 points in 19 minutes.
“I was just taking the open lane,” Hayes said. “Whatever they were giving me, I was taking it. If I saw an open teammate, I’d dish it to my teammates. If I had the lane, I’d take it. It’s whatever I need to do, whether it’s playing defense on the best player or rebounding. It was scoring tonight, and that’s what I did.”
Williams said it is nice to have a player of Hayes’ caliber to power the second unit.
“Tiffany is a super player. She plays hard every time,” Williams said. “It’s very nice to have her get minutes coming off the bench or being a starter. She wants to do whatever it takes to make the team win.”
Along with Hayes, five Dream players finished with double-figures scoring. Sancho Lyttle put in a double-double with 18 points and 10 rebounds. Forward Angel McCoughtry scored 16 points, while Armintie Herrington and Erika DeSouza added 13 and 10, respectively. Herrington had a career-high six steals.
“I’m very pleased with that,” Williams said of the team’s balanced scoring effort. “We distributed the basketball very well. We had 20 assists, which is always a plus for any team. When you share the ball like that, it’s a great feeling for the whole team.”
The Dream forced 22 turnovers and smothered the Shock into 37.5 percent shooting from the floor.
Riquna Williams led the Shock with 22 points, including a 16-point second quarter that helped Tulsa get back into the game before halftime.
The Dream grabbed a 29-16 lead after the opening quarter. But the Shock battled back in the second period. With 3-point shooting and fast-break points off Dream turnovers, the Shock closed the deficit to 48-44 at the half.
The game turned in the third quarter. The Dream outscored the Shock 27-16 to put the game away. Tulsa coughed up 10 turnovers alone in the third, but made only three field goals.
“Tonight I felt we got out of the gates pretty hot on them,” Williams said. “We shot well in the first quarter, but let up a little bit in the second quarter. We regrouped at halftime and got a few run-outs in the second half. We did a much better job in the second half of closing out on their outside shooters.”
The Dream return to action Friday when the team travels to face the Indiana Fever. Tipoff is scheduled for 7 p.m.