Delle Donne Outshines Griner as Top Draft Picks Make WNBA DebutDex McLuskey
Elena Delle Donne outshone Brittney Griner as the top two picks in last month’s draft made their Women’s National Basketball Association debuts.
No. 2 pick Delle Donne scored 22 points and had eight rebounds and four blocked shots as the Chicago Sky beat top pick Griner and the Phoenix Mercury 102-80 last night. Griner contributed 17 points for Phoenix, which finished last season with a 7-27 mark, the worst in the six-team Western Conference.
Griner got the first score at US Airways Center in Phoenix before being replaced by Krystal Thomas with two minutes, 34 seconds remaining in the first quarter, having committed three personal fouls while failing to add to her points tally.
“It was very frustrating,” Griner told reporters in comments posted on the WNBA website. “I came out and got early fouls, being stupid, leaving the floor. Stuff I should know better than doing. I guess I was just a little too pumped.”
Delle Donne succeeded on both her 3-point attempts in the first half, tallying 16 points on seven-of-10 shooting as Chicago led 56-32.
“It hasn’t been much of an adjustment,” Delle Donne, 23, told ESPN in a televised halftime interview. “I’m able to have a lot more space here and I’m working with the space.”
After sitting out the second quarter, Griner added seven points in the third as the Mercury cut the deficit to 12 points. Chicago then scored 10 unanswered points to end the quarter with a 74-52 advantage.
Griner had two dunks in the fourth quarter as she scored eight of her team’s 28 points. She also finished with eight rebounds and four blocked shots.
Griner, a 6-foot-8 (2.03-meter) center, led Baylor University to a national championship in 2012 as the Lady Bears went unbeaten to become the first team, men or women, with 40 wins in one season.
The 22-year-old Griner won the Wooden Award, women’s college basketball’s top yearly honor, for the second time last season after averaging 23.8 points and 4.1 blocks per game. She finished her college career with 3,283 points, the second most among women in National Collegiate Athletic Association Division I history. She’s also the NCAA’s career leading shot blocker, among men and women, with 748.
Delle Donne, a 6-foot-5 guard/forward, led the nation in scoring as a junior and was second in 2013, averaging 26 points per game for Delaware. Delle Donne scored 3,039 points in four years for the Blue Hens.