Storm blows big lead, loses 79-66 to Chicago Sky
Chicago was down by 16 points in the third quarter before turning it around thanks to Epiphanny Prince.
Seattle Times staff reporter
Chicago guard Epiphanny Prince smoothly guided the basketball around the court, seemingly hypnotizing Seattle with every crossover and scoring nearly at will.
When the final horn sounded, Seattle had lost 79-66 on Thursday despite holding a 16-point lead in the third quarter in front of 6,829 fans at KeyArena.
“It seemed like our team was in shock that this had happened to them,” Storm coach Brian Agler said. “We’re a team that can’t ever take a breather or relax or think we have anything made. We’ve got to be a team that, no matter what the circumstance is, we stay completely focused.”
The Storm led 62-49 with 8:32 remaining in the game. Prince swiped a Storm dribble, connecting with center Sylvia Fowles for a layin. The Sky tipped three more Storm passes, drew two fouls and forced a shot-clock violation during a 17-0 run and built a 66-62 lead with 3:49 remaining in the game.
Prince, who was 1 for 5 from the field through three quarters, scored seven points during the run and had the assist on teammate Allie Quigley’s go-ahead three-pointer with 4:16 remaining and Fowles’ bank shot to cap the 26-point swing.
“It was a great effort,” said Prince, who scored 16 points in second half. “But I think we should have started earlier.”
The Storm’s defense was able to muzzle the Sky for most of the first half, but by the time Kent native Courtney Vandersloot dropped a short jumper in the hoop with 3:01 left, the Sky was up 68-64 and feeling confident.
Seattle just couldn’t find a way to respond.
“We were up 13 going into the fourth quarter, and to only be able to score six points (and) give up as much as we did, too?” Storm guard Tanisha Wright said. “That was not good basketball.”
Before the fourth quarter, the Storm was in the midst of one of those games that intoxicates you with its smooth shots, hands disrupting offense and quickness in transition.
After Chicago closed within 44-37 following a putback by Fowles early in the third quarter, Storm forward Shekinna Stricklen responded with a quick three-pointer to ignite a 12-3 run. Wright capped the run with a three-pointer to put Seattle ahead 56-40 with 4:01 remaining in the quarter.
Stricklen finished with 16 points on 6-of-11 shooting. Wright led Seattle (10-13) with 20 points and five rebounds.
Former Storm forward Swin Cash led the Sky with 18 points, while Quigley had 14 off the bench and Vandersloot orchestrated eight assists to compliment her 10 points.
“We wrapped this one up, put a big bow on it and pretty much gave it away,” Storm forward Tina Thompson said. Her team defeated Chicago on the road in July. “But we’re too far into the season to dwell.”
The Sky (16-8) hasn’t made a postseason appearance since its inception in 2006, but traveled to KeyArena as the Eastern Conference leader. It took a half, but it showed its strength — especially since it played without rookie Elena Delle Donne, who ranks fifth in the WNBA in scoring (18.2 points).
Delle Donne, the No. 2 overall draft pick, left Tuesday’s loss in Los Angeles due to a left mid-foot sprain.
She will be evaluated again in Chicago on Friday but could be out for two weeks.
Jayda Evans: 206-464-2067 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
On Twitter @JaydaEvans.