Storm still can’t solve pesky Tulsa
Riquna Williams came off the bench to score 26 points Wednesday afternoon, leading Tulsa to an easy 86-59 victory over the Storm at KeyArena. The Shock is 3-0 this season against Seattle.
Seattle Times staff reporter
L.A. Sparks @ Storm, 7 p.m., KONG
It’s games like the Storm’s 86-59 loss to Tulsa on Wednesday afternoon that gets fans speculating. Should the Storm lose games in attempt to get a top draft pick to improve a team that will soon be without stars Lauren Jackson and Sue Bird for good?
“That’s not in our DNA,” stern Storm coach and general manager Brian Agler said after the Shock ended a six-game losing streak.
The Shock was playing without star rookie Skylar Diggins, who was out with an ankle injury. Diggins, a point guard, was the No. 3 overall pick in April’s WNBA draft. But 2012 second-round pick Riquna Williams and 2013 third-round pick Angel Goodrich schooled the veteran Storm on the annual Kids Day at KeyArena.
Williams, a 5-foot-7 guard, scored 13 of her game-high 26 points during a pivotal 32-8 run in the second half. During that stretch Williams hit three three-pointers and blocked a layin attempt by the Storm’s Camille Little, a 6-2 forward.
Goodrich, who scored nine of her season-high 14 points in the second half, made two free throws with 2:17 left to end the run and give the Shock an 84-50 lead.
“We’ve been bringing Riquna off the bench and she seems to thrive in that role,” said Tulsa coach Gary Kloppenburg, a former Storm assistant. “She’s a tough matchup because of her speed and quickness. When she’s making threes like that, she can be unstoppable.”
Seattle guards Tanisha Wright and Temeka Johnson simply shook their heads in trying to explain what broke down during the run. Johnson played for Tulsa last season, offering that Williams is more poised in her second year.
“It’s a deflating feeling when you know you’re working hard to get back (in the game) and you have a breakdown and somebody knocks down a big shot,” Johnson said of her team’s nine second-half turnovers. “It’s tough.”
Tulsa is 3-0 against Seattle this season but just 4-13 overall. The Shock has outscored the Storm by a combined 58 points and has been outscored by 155 in its 13 losses.
“I’m at a loss for words,” said Wright, who finished with nine points and five assists after scoring a season-high 21 points in a win against Eastern Conference-leading Atlanta on Sunday.
Seattle (6-9) remains in the fourth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference. San Antonio (4-11) is fifth in the conference standings, losing to Seattle 91-86 in June. The Storm plays the Silvers Stars four more times and finishes the 2013 season with back-to-back games against the Shock.
“We understand that this is a game we needed to win,” Wright said. “This may be who we’re fighting against to get in (the playoffs). But there’s nothing we can do about that now.”
The Storm concludes its three-game homestand against Los Angeles (10-4) on Saturday. The Sparks are on a five-game win streak and handed the Storm its worst loss of the season (102-69) at Staples Center.
• Jackson has rehabilitated her surgically repaired hamstring and is cleared to play for her Australian national team. The Opals will participate in a FIBA World Championships qualifier in August. “I knew she was feeling a lot better and she’s been in training camp there, so I think that’s good,” said Agler, who suspended Jackson’s contract this season but expects her to play for the Storm in 2014.
Jayda Evans: 206-464-2067 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
On Twitter @JaydaEvans.