"Weak in the knees," is how Tulsa Shock reserve guard Riquna Williams described her reaction upon learning of her selection as the WNBA's 2013 Sixth Woman of the Year. Williams, who received 17 votes from a national panel of 39 sportswriters and broadcasters, was announced Wednesday as the recipient of this year's honor.
In a banner year for guards coming off the bench, Monica Wright of the Minnesota Lynx finished second in the balloting with 13 votes, while Atlanta Dream guard Tiffany Hayes garnered seven. Los Angeles Sparks center Jantel Lavender, the lone post reserve to receive votes, check in with one ballot. (One member of the panel abstained in this category.)
To be eligible for the award, a player must have come off the bench in more games than she started this season. Williams, in her just her second year in the league, appeared in 27 games, including 21 as a reserve, while averaging 15.6 points –- a five-point increase from her rookie season and the second-highest average on the Shock. The 5-7 University of Miami (Fla.) product also roped in 2.4 rebounds, dealt 1.8 assists and snatched 1 steal in 22.7 minutes per game. Williams also tied for fourth overall in the league in free-throw percentage, converting 90 percent of her attempts from the free throw line.
Williams made history late this season when she broke the WNBA all-time single-game scoring record, with a 51 point performance, including eight treys, to lead the Shock to a 98-65 victory over San Antonio on Sept. 8. The record was previously held jointly by the Phoenix Mercury's Diana Taurasi and the Seattle Storm's Lauren Jackson (47 points). That massive infusion of points no doubt helped her scoring average, Williams, who topped the 20-point mark nine times and notched 18 double-digit scoring games over the course of the season, was by no means a "one hit wonder."
"She can flat out shoot the ball," said Williams' Miami running mate Shenise Johnson, who was on the losing side of Williams record-setting explosion. "She had that LeBron (James) look, that Kobe (Bryant) look in her eye. Everybody moved out of the way and [she] was out there getting it done.''
Williams, who earned the first Western Conference Player of the Week Award in her career following that performance, was a WNBA All-Rookie Team selection in 2012, finishing her inaugural year in the pros ranked third among rookies in both assists (2.1 apg) and steals (1.55 spg), and fourth in scoring (10.5 ppg).
"I'm so thankful for this honor to represent this amazing year," Williams told Full Court through a team spokesperson of her reaction upon learning of the award. "When I found out I felt weak in the knees because I couldn't believe it. Getting the call from Ms. Richie made me think about when my name was called during the draft. Another amazing memory from this year."
Tulsa head coach Gary Klopppenburg, who guided the Shock to their best finish (11-23) in the four years since the franchise relocated from Detroit, was gratified but not surprised by the honor. "I am extremely happy for Riquna to be receiving the WNBA Sixth Woman of the Year Award," said Kloppenburg. "She has put in countless extra hours of work with assistant coach Jason Glover to improve her game and her stats this year are evidence of that. 'Bay Bay' has become the consummate pro who always puts the team and winning above any personal accolades. With her strong work ethic and drive to be great, she is rapidly developing into one of the top scoring guards in the WNBA. A well-deserved honor."
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:
2013 SIXTH WOMAN OF THE YEAR RESULTS
Votes Player Team
17 Riquna Williams Tulsa Shock
13 Monica Wright Minnesota Lynx
7 Tiffany Hayes Atlanta Dream
1 Jantel Lavender Los Angeles Sparks
*One voter abstained.
WNBA SIXTH WOMAN OF THE YEAR WINNERS
Season Winner Team
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
* Inaugural award
- Fever's Zellous is 2013 WNBA Most Improved Player
- Mystics' Thibault picks up third WNBA Coach-of-the-Year Award
- Sky's Delle Donne Unanimous 2013 WNBA Rookie of the Year
- Catchings, Cash share 2013 Kim Perrot Sportsmanship Award
- Sky's Fowles takes 2013 WNBA Defensive Player of the Year
- Sparks' Parker named 2013 WNBA MVP