Storm Comes Alive in 4th Quarter to Beat Dream, 73-65

July 14, 2013

The Seattle Storm were getting the stops.

It was Shekinna Stricklen who finally gave them some go.

The second-year player from Tennessee, making her first start of the season and just the fourth of her career, scored seven of her 10 points early in the fourth quarter on Sunday night, including the basket that put the Storm ahead to stay, and Tanisha Wright pumped in a season-high 21 as Seattle overcame an injury-depleted Atlanta team to beat the Dream in KeyArena, 73-65.

“I was just going off the dribble, get to the basket, and looking to be more aggressive,” said Stricklen, whose seven points came in just 1 minute, 49 seconds and left the Storm (6-8) on top by four with 7:20 left in the game. “It was just in the fourth quarter, but it was a good time to get a good spurt.”

Camille Little tallied seven of her 19 points in the fourth quarter for Seattle, which finished with its best shooting night of the season at 51.9 percent (28 of 54), including 53.8 percent (14 of 26 in the second half).

Tanisha Wright
Terrence Vaccaro/NBAE/Getty Images

Tanisha Wright scored a season-high 21 points.

At the other end, the Storm forced Atlanta into just 34 percent shooting for the second half (11 of 32) and 39.1 percent for the game (27 of 69).

“We got some stops, got some easy scores. It just felt good,” Little said. “Sometimes, it takes us a little while to get there. But when we get there, you see how good we can be.”

Seattle, starting a stretch of three straight and 9 of 12 at home, play host to Tulsa on Wednesday in the annual 12 noon Camp Day game.

The Storm trailed the whole way until a traditional three-point play by Stricklen forged the first tie of the night at 52-52 with 9:10 left. A lay-in by Armintie Herrington gave Atlanta its final lead of the night, 54-52.

But Seattle then ran off 13 straight points, keeping Atlanta off the board for more than six minutes. Tina Thompson tied it at 54-54 on a turnaround five-footer with 8:26 to go. Then it was four straight by Stricklen – a putback for a 56-54 lead, and a five-footer from the right side to make it 58-54 after an Atlanta turnover.

A Dream timeout at the 7:20 mark didn’t slow down Seattle, as it ran off another seven points for a 65-54 advantage, the last two of those points coming on a driving lay-in by Wright with 3:34 left.

The Storm pushed the lead all the way to 69-57 on a pair of free throws by Wright with 1:32 to go. In the next minute, Atlanta cut that lead in half to 71-65, and had a chance to get closer following a Seattle turnover. But a long 3-point try by Courtney Clements bounced high off the rim and was brought down by Temeka Johnson. She was fouled and hit two free throws with 19.3 seconds left for the final margin.

“It good to get a win, but we also understand that we have a lot more work to do to be where we want to be,” Wright said, “trying to get better, trying to have a better start, and trying to keep our focus to win some games in a row.”

The Dream were minus three offensive stars who weren’t even suited up because of injuries: Angel McCaughtry (19.8 points, Achilles), Sancho Lyttle (14.3 points, left foot), and Tiffany Hayes (10.8 points, left knee).

Coach Brian Agler said the decision to give Stricklen the start was simply a matter of trying to find a way out of the early-game doldrums that plagued the team during a just-completed four-game road trip.

“We’re trying to find the right combination. Maybe we’re not done changing, I don’t know,” he said. “But we have to play better from the beginning of the game. We’ll just keep evaluating.”

Atlanta had the lead for the entire first half, including a 16-6 advantage with 3:25 left in the opening quarter. The Dream were up 37-32 at halftime.

Ashley Robinson, part of the Storm’s 2010 championship team who re-signed with Seattle as a free agent on Friday, came in for the first time with 4:49 left in the second quarter, and needed just more than a minute to get onto the scoreboard, converting a pass from Temeka Johnson into a lay-in at the 3:47 mark to cut Atlanta’s lead to 27-23.

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