Tina Thompson's late heroics lift Storm to upset victory
Seattle knocks Minnesota from ranks of unbeatens
Seattle Times staff reporter
The WNBA's best came crashing down at KeyArena on Sunday.
And possibly washed away with it was the poison that had led the Storm to its worst start to a WNBA season.
Seattle, previously able to only defeat the league's worst team in Tulsa, barely held on to a once double-digit lead to beat the league's best team in Minnesota, 65-62, Sunday.
The Lynx were off to the WNBA's best start at 10-0, but couldn't manage a comeback in KeyArena as guard Maya Moore's three-point attempt with a second remaining brushed the front of the net.
"It got a little crazy down there at the end," said Storm point guard Sue Bird, who finished with a game-high 21 points, including five three-pointers. "But in this league, you just have to find a way to win no matter what it looks like."
As an announced crowd of 8,349 stood and watched, the game became downright gritty in the closing quarter.
The Storm led by 13 points at the end of three quarters, but the Lynx went on an 8-0 run to open the final 10 minutes of play and eventually were down just 63-62 after two made free throws by Moore.
Seattle called a timeout, then guard Tanisha Wright missed her shot attempt with 17.9 seconds left, and gave Minnesota another chance.
All-Star Seimone Augustus bricked a 17-footer and Seattle forward Tina Thompson grabbed what she thought was the final rebound of the game.
But after Bird, a 92.9 percent free-throw shooter, was fouled and missed both attempts, Thompson reached into the fray to grab another key rebound. She was immediately fouled and made both free throws as the crowd chanted "Tina! Tina!" — a first for the longtime Houston Comets star at KeyArena.
"I said thank you immediately," Bird said of her words to Thompson. "That was huge. That sealed the game for us."
Thompson said the rebound was more her own redemption for missing a rebound in a scrum with forward Rebekkah Brunson earlier.
The key play with two seconds left also depicted the determination Seattle (3-7) has been scrapping to show in games and not just in practice this season.
"We had to decide what kind of team we were going to be," said Thompson, who had 10 points and five rebounds off the bench. "Up until this point, we haven't been showing it consistently. We've been showing it in spurts. Today is our true personality — not backing down."
The Storm, which returned home after a five-game road trip, led 32-15 midway through the second quarter and responded well when the Lynx closed to 10 in the third quarter.
And in the closing minutes, the veterans led the way for Seattle — Thompson with her rebounds and guard Katie Smith with a needed three-pointer when the offense stalled with 3:06 left.
Guard Tanisha Wright handled the toughest defensive assignment, guarding Augustus, who was 5 for 16 from the field for 12 points. Minnesota shot a season-low 37.5 percent from the field.
"It was a matter of us not responding in the first half," said Lynx coach Cheryl Reeve, whose team defeated Seattle by an average of 18.5 points in two games at Target Center earlier this season. "When a team is punching you in the face, punching you in the face, it usually doesn't take us that long to respond. ... And we didn't get any help here. You're playing against 8,000 people and the officials go with the momentum. You've got no allies in this environment."
Jayda Evans: 206-464-2067 or firstname.lastname@example.org. On Twitter @JaydaEvans.