Storm edges Tulsa Shock 76-70 in exhibition finale
Rookie Ify Ibekwe plays well in bid for roster spot.
Seattle Times staff reporter
Ify Ibekwe shrugged at the question.
Why would she be nervous for an WNBA game?
"It's still basketball," said Ibekwe, the Storm's second-round draft pick out of Arizona. She put her confidence on display Sunday in Seattle's 76-70 victory over Tulsa at KeyArena in the Storm's exhibition finale.
The Storm (1-1) will take Monday off before returning to prepare for its season opener against visiting Phoenix on Saturday.
Ibekwe, who is working to cement a spot on the final 11-player roster, got good minutes on Sunday with both Katie Smith and Belinda Snell sitting the game out. In 14 minutes, she totaled seven points, four rebounds and three steals.
"I loved the atmosphere that's here," Ibekwe said. "It just reminded me of Arizona. That's why I felt so comfortable."
Ibekwe, a 6-foot-2 wing, entered with 3:33 left in the first quarter and immediately collected a steal. Later, she made a step-through layup to put the Storm ahead 20-6 with 2:15 left in the quarter.
"What I like about Ify is her instincts for the game, athleticism, and she can score multiple ways," Storm coach Brian Agler said. "Now what she needs to improve on are the same things that most rookies need to improve on — developing that mental toughness defensively, being able to think on the floor and make adjustments and playing a lot of (power forward) in college to (small forward as a pro)."
Seattle, which opened on a 10-0 run, led 45-25 at halftime.
The Shock used an 11-5 run to get within five points with 33.7 seconds remaining in the game, but Storm guard Tanisha Wright sealed the victory with two free throws.
Swin Cash led Seattle with 20 points, while Camille Little and Lauren Jackson added 15 points apiece.
"Our conditioning is not quite there yet," said Agler. "We made some mental mistakes that a lot of times are attributed to being physically tired. But there were some good things we did out there."
Amber Holt led Tulsa with 25 points.
• Jacinta Monroe, acquired from the Washington Mystics in the deal for Smith, was cut after Sunday's game. Agler, still working to finalize the roster, plans to keep a close eye on the WNBA waiver wire as teams begin to dwindle their respective rosters.
• Snell (ankle) and Smith (Achilles) are expected to be available to play in Saturday's opener.
Jayda Evans: 206-464-2067 or firstname.lastname@example.org
The Morning Memo
The Morning Memo jump starts your day with weather, traffic and news
Career Center Blog
Your Opinion Matters
Take our survey and enter to win $100. Enter Now!