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Saturday, June 15, 2013 - Page updated at 09:00 p.m.

Third quarter dooms Seattle in loss to Atlanta

By Rory Sharrock
Special to The Seattle Times

ATLANTA — As a collective unit, the Seattle Storm put forth a valiant effort on the floor, but it wasn’t enough to stop the Atlanta Dream’s one-woman show.

Angel McCoughtry, Atlanta’s versatile wing player, scored a game-high 23 points to pace the Dream to a 68-59 win on their home floor. The loss drops the Storm to 1-3.

From the onset, it appeared as if both clubs were in for a close-knit duel. However, the Storm’s inability to execute on offense for long stretches led to their demise. Seattle posted a season-low four points in the third quarter and shot a woeful 12.5 percent from the field during the period.

“I thought we played well for the first 15 minutes of the game, but the third quarter was a disaster for us,” said Storm coach Brian Agler. “We only gave up 17 points in the quarter, and most of them were in transition. But we missed some layups, open jumpers, and we got our shot blocked a few times. That was the difference for us.”

The team’s dreadful showing after halftime was a polar opposite of how they performed in the early stages. Seattle displayed fluid ball movement in the first quarter and received key contributions off the bench, including Shekinna Stricklen’s six points to put the Storm ahead, 19-16. The nip-and-tuck affair continued in the second quarter with Atlanta taking a 38-35 lead at halftime.

However, all of that changed following intermission. The Storm’s previously smooth execution suddenly turned into confusion and missed opportunities.

“[Atlanta] capitalized on a lot of things that we didn’t. Time to go back to drawing board and quickly turn things around,” said Temeka Johnson, who had 11 points and was the lone Seattle player to score in the third quarter. “We have to be more aggressive and take what we want, not what people give us.”

In the fourth quarter, Seattle made a huge surge to cut the deficit to single digits, trailing 58-50 with 5:24 remaining. But on the ensuing possession, McCoughtry drilled a 16-foot baseline jumper that killed the rally.

“We hung in there and fought back,” said Storm coach Brian Agler. “I’m happy about our competitiveness, but we’re in a situation where we have new players trying to figure out how to play with each other. When you get down by 17, 18 points against a team like Atlanta on their home floor, it’s difficult to come back.”

Seattle’s trip continues at Connecticut for a Sunday tilt with the Sun. Despite being far from home and getting off to a rough start this season, they won’t wallow on the negative aspects plaguing the group.

“We’re going to keep fighting, keep working and keep executing. If we continue to do these things, then we’ll be OK,” said Tina Thompson, who tied with Johnson for a team-high 11 points.

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