Johnson, Stricklen Shine in Seattle OT Loss
by Jourdan Rodrigue @JourdanRodrigue
Temeka Johnson made franchise history on Thursday night with the Storm’s first-ever triple-double.
The Seattle Storm relied on two players that usually come off the bench to both start and lead the team in Thursday night’s matchup against the New York Liberty.
First, Temeka Johnson recorded the first triple-double in franchise history.
Johnson’s notable performance in the game saw her step into double-double territory before the end of the third quarter. The smallest player on the team at 5-3, she also led Seattle in rebounds by the half.
By the time the game had finished, she’d grabbed precious triple-double honors with 13 points, 11 assists, and 10 rebounds—becoming the shortest player in the history of the league to do so by six inches.
“I didn’t even know, honestly,” Johnson said. Her face, solemn from the loss, cracked into a grin. “I mean, I’m not going to downplay it, it’s a huge accomplishment…but…aren’t I a little small to be doing this??”
Second, Shekinna Stricklen showed she had some groove in her game.
A starter for the second time this season, Stricklen began the matchup against the 9-(13,14) Liberty with definite authority, immediately making two impressive defensive plays (a steal and a strip) and nailing a three-pointer.
She shone in the midst of a 12-4 scoring drive with which the Storm opened the first quarter, but she wasn’t finished yet.
“I feel the best when we’re loose and playing like this,” said Stricklen. “I felt good out there.”
Her block late in the first quarter led to a breakaway layup that got StormCrazies screaming and thundersticks booming. And all the way behind the opposing baseline, one StormCrazy caught the vibe of Stricklen’s confidence.
“Go on girl, let it go,” this particular fan yelled whenever No.40 had the ball for the remainder of the half.
Following both Stricklen and Johnson’s lead, the Storm showed fresh confidence in shooting, too. They shot freely, and even post player Crystal Langhorne attempted a three. Langhorne also performed a juking, quick-stepping layup to give Seattle a four-point lead with under a minute in the first quarter remaining.
But while Stricklen and Johnson were playing like the Storm was up by dozens, the game in fact stayed even throughout the second half.
And with a 75-73 lead as the fourth quarter trickled away, the Storm thought they had the game until New York’s Cappie Pondexter hit a jumper that sent the teams into overtime at 75 apiece.
Johnson nabbed her spot in history during overtime, but two missed Seattle shots and a Pondexter layup put a needle in the Storm’s inflated excitement. Tina Charles then hit a putback that sent New York home with the win, 80-84.
Despite the loss, Seattle is not going to quit--and its littlest player will declare that the loudest.
“There are no quitters in this locker room,” said Johnson.
Seattle falls to 9-17 on the night, and faces Los Angeles on Saturday at home at 1:00 p.m.
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