Storm stops Silver Stars and losing streak, 73-55
The Storm beat San Antonio 73-55 before 6,922 fans at KeyArena, avoiding its first four-game losing streak since 2005.
Seattle Times staff reporter
The whistle was blowing at KeyArena on Thursday.
The designated sound effect after Le'coe Willingham scores, it seemed to call the entire Storm team to work in defeating San Antonio 73-55 before 6,922 at KeyArena. The Storm avoided its first four-game losing streak since 2005 and kept the Silver Stars (9-5) from securing the best start in franchise history.
"That's the kind of basketball that we want to play right there," said Storm guard Tanisha Wright, who led all scorers with 17 points. "I don't know any way else to put it."
Willingham, who had seven points in a reserve role, helped Seattle (8-7) match up better with San Antonio's bench. Last week, the Silver Stars' reserves outscored the Storm's 47-13 in a three-point San Antonio win. Thursday night, the bench scoring was even, 23-23.
Storm coach Brian Agler got his team motivated after its recent 0-3 trip, when Seattle gave three opponents an average of 21.3 points off turnovers and was trampled inside.
The trip ended Tuesday, leaving the Storm no practice time to work out the kinks — just the Silver Stars.The first quarter ended with the Storm making six of seven free throws to build a 19-14 lead. Seattle added to the lead, taking a 38-22 lead into halftime.
Willingham, who was scoreless in the team's previous two games, got six points off the bench in the second quarter. She was replaced in the starting lineup for a second consecutive game by center Ashley Robinson.
"It had a lot to do with Brian calling me out and the post players out, telling us we need to get in there and fight for position and ask for the ball," said Willingham, who helped Seattle outscore San Antonio 30-20 inside. "My teammates saw me and I finally got (the shots) to go down. We're at our best when we play inside-out, so we made an effort as a team to sprint down and seal and keep sealing."
And as a final reminder, Wright said the Storm's starting five stressed the need for that same effort to begin the second half. Seattle whipped out a 17-8 run to open the third quarter and put the game out of reach.
Wright made a steal and dish to guard Sue Bird for a three-pointer and another steal that led to her own layin on the opening plays of the second half. Wright finished with 11 points and three steals in the third quarter.
"We knew we could play much better than when we played down there," Wright said of the 69-66 loss to San Antonio last week.
Storm players regarded the matchup as a must-win game, given its 2-5 record on the road. The Storm is a Western Conference-best 6-1 at home heading into the midseason break.
Bird, Swin Cash and the coaching staff departed Thursday on a red-eye flight to participate in the All-Star Game Saturday in San Antonio. The team regroups in Phoenix on Sunday for the start of another three-game trip.
WNBA games resume on Tuesday.
"This was an important game for us and I'm glad we addressed it that way," Agler said.
• The WNBA replaced Storm assistant Nancy Darsch with San Antonio coach Dan Hughes on Agler's All-Star staff. Darsch departed Thursday evening to tend to a personal matter. She's expected to rejoin the team after the break.
• Agler cut rookie Krystal Thomas after the game. A 6-foot-4 center from Duke, she averaged 2.8 minutes and didn't score in six games.
Jayda Evans: 206-464-2067 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Storm 73, Silver Stars 55
|San Antonio||14||8||13||20 — 55|
|Seattle||19||19||19||16 — 73|
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