Team Huddle

Storm Stuns San Antonio
by Jourdan Rodrigue @JourdanRodrigue

They say everything is bigger in Texas, and that proved to be true in regards to an impressive 58% shooting percentage and bench performance through three quarters from the Seattle Storm against the San Antonio Stars in a 79-72 Storm victory on Friday night.

That percentage contributed to similarly larger-than-life offensive production from Seattle—they outscored the Stars through three quarters during a game in which the Storm’s bench in Jenna O’Hea, Temeka Johnson, and Shekinna Stricklen combined for 29 points.

Yet the Stars tried to create a phrase of their own—"everything’s bigger in the fourth quarter"—as they went on a 13-0 run to outscore Seattle 15-2 in the first five minutes of the last quarter, 28-16 total. Thankfully for the Storm, an early lead in the first three quarters saved the Seattle from a poor closing performance.

And with tonight’s win, the Storm also shoots a huge gap in the Western Conference rankings from fifth to third after a Los Angeles loss to Tulsa this evening.

The Storm pushed a huge first-quarter advantage, outscoring the Stars 21-12. Nine of those first points came from Camille Little as she went four for four from the field, three points of which were the result of a bucket from downtown.

The Storm could do almost nothing wrong in the first quarter, shooting 60% from the field and scoring 12 of their 21 points in the paint. Seattle went on a 9-2 run to open the game boosted by Tanisha Wright’s four points, Little’s two steals, and Sue Bird’s steal and three assists.

“We’re starting to gel. We shot the ball the best we’ve shot it all year tonight," said Bird.

The second quarter saw the Stars attempt to slow down the offense and reduce points in the paint, yet the Storm couldn’t stop rolling. Temeka Johnson shot the ball out to O’Hea twice in a row in identical spots on the perimeter, and the Aussie coolly knocked them down.

This led to an 8-2 run by the Storm and a 17-point lead with only two minutes ticked off into the quarter.

A laser from Bird to Stricklen for the layup further pushed the Seattle lead, which was answered by a three from San Antonio’s Becky Hammon.

The Stars capitalized off Storm turnovers through the rest of the half and matched Seattle in scoring as each team racked up 15 each with about two minutes left, but the Storm got its momentum back with about a minute left in the half and went on an 8-0 run helped along by two and-1-plays, and ended up outscoring the Stars 22-16 to hit the locker room in the lead, 43-28.

Seattle stretched its lead to 19 with about seven and a half minutes left in the third, helped along by a long jumper from Bird. With three minutes left in the quarter, the Storm led by 22 and had held the Stars to only 36 points and had shot 58% from the field.

But the Storm was outscored 15-2 through five minutes in the fourth quarter as the Stars came within four with help from a 13-0 run. Tanisha Wright’s free throws and a jumper and consecutive layup with three minutes left helped ease Seattle’s panic.

“It’s a part of the game," said Wright. "Teams are going to make runs and you have to be good enough to withstand those runs, so we made runs."

San Antonio’s Kayla McBride came alive with a three in the closing two minutes, turning what had been a 22-point lead into a one-possession game, 75-73.

A crucial rebound from Johnson and layup from Langhorne pushed the Storm back up by seven. And in the final minute, Bird directed traffic slowly and methodically and Wright drew a foul with 37.4 seconds remaining to make it a three-possession game, and the Storm ended it, 79-72.

Wright led the Storm in scoring with 15 points, followed closely by Little with 13 and Johnson with 10. Stricklen and Crystal Langhorne contributed with 10 apiece, and O’Hea’s eight rounded out a solid scoring squad.

The Storm travels to Tulsa to face the Shock on Sunday at 1:30 p.m. PDT.

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