Storm buckles down to stop Della Donne, Sky in 69-60 win
Trailing by 14 after one quarter, Seattle turned it around with lock-down defense to lead by as many as 16 points.
Special to The Seattle Times
Storm @ Mystics, 4 p.m.
ROSEMONT, Ill. – Mired in a three-game losing streak, the Seattle Storm saw things again turning bleak.
It fell behind by 14 points after missing its final 11 shots of the first quarter against an opponent that was unbeaten at home and featured one of the WNBA’s rising stars.
Seattle trailed 21-7 after a first quarter in which Chicago did not commit a foul and enjoyed a 15-8 edge on the glass.
“At that point, I was hoping we could find a way to be close,” Seattle coach Brian Agler said.
The Sky held a big lead despite getting no baskets from rookie sensation Elena Delle Donne, who is often compared to Storm legend Lauren Jackson.
That proved to be a sign of things to come as the Storm harassed Delle Donne into a season-low 12 points on 3-for-13 shooting, double-teaming the 6-foot-5 rookie. Delle Donne entered the game third in the league at 19.3 points per game for Chicago, which fell to 5-1 at home.
Camille Little and Temeka Johnson each scored 16 points and Shekinna Stricklen added 14 for Seattle, which had dropped its previous four visits to Chicago. Little was also the fulcrum of the defensive effort on Delle Donne.
“I thought Camille Little did a really good job on her, keeping her in spots where we could guard her,” Agler said. “She’s such a versatile player and she’s so skilled that you have to be physical with her, and you have to run people at her.”
The Storm methodically worked its way back into the contest in the second quarter and used a 7-0 spurt to gain a 34-31 advantage on Stricklen’s basket with two seconds left in the half.
A 10-2 surge to end the third quarter gave the Storm a 54-45 advantage, which increased to 63-47 early in the fourth quarter, effectively turning the contest into a rout.
“I think we started getting some stops and we started executing on the offensive end,” said Johnson, who had five assists with just one turnover.
The Sky played without star center Sylvia Fowles, who sat out with a sprained right ankle. She leads the WNBA at 12.2 rebounds per game. Still, there were no excuses coming from Chicago, which held a 12-4 edge in points in the paint after one quarter and was outscored there 22-8 the rest of the way.
“We still wanted to get the ball inside (without Fowles) and we were able to do that in the first quarter, and we kind of went away from it,” Delle Donne said. “And I’m not sure why.”
One key first-half sequence showcased Seattle’s defensive effort, as Little and Johnson double-teamed Delle Donne just past half-court, creating a turnover that Tanisha Wright converted into a three-point play that gave the Storm the lead for good at 32-31 with 26 seconds left before the break.
“We really put a lot of time, invest a lot of energy into our defense,” Agler said. “We’ve got to stay close that way and hopefully get on some spurts like we did tonight where we hit some shots.”
Tina Thompson added 10 points and a season-high 11 rebounds for Seattle.