Storm smothers San Antonio 78-64
Seattle opens by shooting franchise-high 82.4 percent from the field in the first quarter.
Seattle Times staff reporter
Connecticut @ Storm, 7 p.m.
San Antonio coach Dan Hughes released a big sigh.
Then a bashful chuckle followed by a long pause.
How do you strategize against Sue Bird?
"To be honest, you hope she's not handling the ball too much of the game," Hughes said. "She's so versatile, you don't strategize against her, you hope that you can congest and bring enough people to her that maybe she's not getting the ball in her comfortable spots."
That wasn't the case in the Storm's 78-64 victory against the Silver Stars on Tuesday.
Trailing by 11 at the break, San Antonio chipped its way to one point behind after a three-pointer by reserve guard Jia Perkins with 1:06 left in the third quarter. But Seattle closed on a 7-0 run, Silver Stars post Jayne Appel missing two free throws with seven seconds remaining to nix a chance to stop Seattle's surge.
In fact, Bird grabbed the rebound off the second miss and zipped down court to nail a three-pointer with 0.5 seconds on the clock. The shot spiked the electric feeling among the 6,179 fans at KeyArena.
And Seattle used it, going on a 10-2 run to open the fourth quarter, finishing off the Silver Stars. The Storm (11-8) is now tied with Phoenix for third in Western Conference standings, owning the tiebreaker. Seattle, which has won six consecutive home games, is a half-game behind San Antonio (11-7), leading the series 2-1.
"I kind of had a feeling if I accelerated a little bit, she would back up," said Bird of Appel stumbling backward to clear a look at the hoop. "(San Antonio) still had a whole quarter (to rally), but if you were to ask the crowd and how loud they got ... I felt a lot of energy on that play from the crowd."
Exactly the type of move Hughes has hated to see since he began coaching against Bird with the defunct Cleveland Rockers in 2002, the point guard's rookie season.
"That one really hurt us," he said. Bird finished with a game-high 17 points. "We didn't get the matchup on that situation, but that's what she does for them. We have to recognize that. That (play) gave them some separation to play with after we'd gotten back into it."
Comfortable at home after six games on the road in July, Seattle trampled the Silver Stars on transition plays, shooting a franchise-high 82.4 percent (14 of 17) from the field in the opening quarter. Leading 17-14, the Storm went on a 14-5 run to build a 31-19 advantage at the end of the opening quarter.
Seattle outscored San Antonio 24-8 in the paint in the opening half then used its physical defense to cover errors in the second half when the Silver Stars challenged, preserving the win.
"It's nice to be home," said guard Tanisha Wright, who finished with 12 points and seven assists. "We got a lot of easy things in the first half in transition. Not necessarily fast break two-on-one, but things where they were just disoriented and didn't know who to pick up. So, any time we can get out defensively and make plays, it puts a lot less pressure on our offense."
Forward Swin Cash, who was honored for winning the MVP award at the All-Star Game in July, was 5 for 5 from the field in the first half to lead the team with 10 points and three rebounds, and scored 16 total along with nine rebounds. Once San Antonio double- and triple-teamed Seattle inside, veteran Katie Smith entered the game to nail two three-pointers and spread the defense.
"August is an important month for us, so I'm happy we got the first win," said Cash of playing eight games at KeyArena this month.
Jayda Evans: 206-464-2067 or email@example.com
Storm 78, Silver Stars 64
|San Antonio||19||14||19||12 — 64|
|Seattle||31||13||16||18 — 78|
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