Phoenix beats Storm, sets WNBA record for wins in a season
Brittney Griner posted a double-double in the Mercury’s 78-65 win over Seattle Sunday. It was the final game of the season for the Storm, which will not play in the postseason.
Seattle Times staff reporter
Phoenix made a little history Sunday night in beating the Storm, 78-65, at KeyArena.
The Mercury set a WNBA record for wins in a season with 29, surpassing the mark posted by the Storm during its 2010 championship season.
Seattle played in its final game of the seasonin front of 9,149.
Despite losing, the Storm still did not improve its chances in the draft lottery. Tulsa shared the worst record with Seattle, but Tulsa is behind Seattle based on a tiebreaker.
Phoenix center Brittney Griner led all scorers with 18 points and 10 rebounds.
Forward Crystal Langhorne had 16 points to lead Seattle.
The Mercury will enter the WNBA playoffs as the top overall seed, earning home court advantage throughout the postseason.
Seattle (12-22) will be in the draft lottery for the first time since 2003.
“It was an awkward position,” said Storm guard Tanisha Wright on playing without a possibility of advancing to the postseason.
“I’ve never been in that position before in my whole basketball life. Never. I don’t really know if I’ve really processed it…No matter what you do, you still want to win and you play to do that. But it was an awkward feeling game and we still didn’t win.”
The league will host its draft lottery on Thursday during halftime of the San Antonio-Minnesota series that tips off at 5 p.m. on ESPN2. It will determine the first four picks of the 2015 draft.
The Storm did not win the lottery for the 2004 draft and has only retained one lottery selection since it drafted Sue Bird in 2002 with the top overall pick.
Third-year forward Shekinna Stricklen was drafted with the No. 2 pick in 2012. Storm coach and general manager Brian Agler traded Swin Cash in a deal to secure the position.
“This is uncharted territory for us,” said Agler. “We can debate about why it happened but being here, it’s not easy. We didn’t change how we prepared (Sunday) and it (the game) gave us a chance to really evaluate people. But we don’t like being here, so we’ve got to come back hungrier next year.”
The WNBA postseason begins Thursday.
Phoenix, the top overall seed, hosts Los Angeles in a best-of-three series starting Friday. The Storm will hold exit interviews on Monday.
Many Storm players haven’t finalized overseas plans.
Bird, who returned from knee surgery to play this season, will turn her focus to USA Basketball.
After Sunday’s loss, though, she wasn’t thinking about international play and mentioned how she’d be on time to training camp in 2015.
“It kind of stinks, but it is what it is,” said Bird of the team’s third-worst record in franchise history.
“I think at times you have to go through this to find a way to get to the other side. That builds character. I’m trying to look at it that way. I’m upset and sad, but I don’t want to have it ruin the good stuff that we did do and have it ruin the future.”
Jayda Evans: 206-464-2067 or firstname.lastname@example.org.