Live from Press Row: Storm vs. Washington
Storm Takes Care of Business
Final: Storm 72, Washington 55
Playing against a struggling team at the end of a long West Coast road trip, the Storm did what needed to be done to get a comfortable double-digit victory. At the defensive end, the Storm kept Washington from getting anything easy. The Mystics did not have a fast-break point and scored just 18 points in the paint. They shot 34.9 percent from the field and finished with their lowest point total of the season and the fewest the Storm has allowed.
The Storm's point totals weren't quite as gaudy as Friday, but the team had five players with at least nine points. Sue Bird and Ann Wauters were the lone two in double figures, scoring 14 apiece. Bird handed out five assists and Wauters added seven rebounds. The Storm shot 56.3 percent from the field and had 19 assists on 27 baskets, with Tanisha Wright adding five of her own.
The Storm will take its four-game winning streak on the road starting Tuesday in a rematch against this same Washington team at 4 p.m. on ESPN2. The Storm will return home two weeks from today, hosting the Phoenix Mercury. You won't want to miss your chance to be one of the first 3,000 fans and collect a Sue Bird bobblehead. Get your tickets now!
Storm Has Things Well in Hand
Fourth Quarter: Storm 64, Washington 48
With 2:56 to play, the Storm is just putting the finishing touches on this victory. Brian Agler was able to get Sue Bird and Katie Smith some rest, though he still has three starters in the game with reserves Ewelina Kobryn and Shekinna Stricklen. Bird provided the play of the night when she came off a pick-and-roll and delivered a no-look pass on target to Kobryn for a layup plus the foul.
Faces in the Crowd
Fourth Quarter: Storm 56, Washington 40
Besides the players on the two teams, there's a lot of basketball talent in KeyArena tonight. Former Storm guard Michelle Marciniak, who played for the team in 2001 and 2002 before retiring, is sitting courtside with Storm Chairperson Dawn Trudeau. Marciniak remains one of my favorite former Storm players. Down the row from her is Seattle native Terrence Williams of the Sacramento Kings, who recently completed his third season in the NBA.
The biggest name in the house used to have his jersey in the rafters. Sonics legend Gus Williams, an All-Star who led the 1978-79 championship team in scoring, is attending the game while in town for the Detlef Schrempf Celebrity Golf Tournament. Jayda Evans of the Seattle Times caught up with Williams in her liveblog.
Storm Looking for One More Run
End Third Quarter: Storm 52, Washington 40
A three-pointer by Matee Ajavon got the Mystics within 10 points before Sue Bird gave the Storm momentum by scoring a pull-up jumper with 3.8 seconds left in the third quarter. If the Storm can make a push early in the fourth quarter, that might be enough to put Washington away. A 12-point lead is going to be difficult to overcome given the slow pace both of these teams favor and the low-scoring nature of the game. The Mystics did put 20 points on the board in the third quarter.
During the quarter break, Storm CEO Karen Bryant presented a representative from the GSBA a check for $3,500 as the Storm's donation to the GSBA Scholarship Fund. They were joined on the floor by four students who have benefited from the GSBA Scholarship Fund in the past. Thanks to everybody who helped us raise that money by purchasing Pride tickets to tonight's game!
Edit: Washington lost a Lindsay Wisdom-Hylton three-pointer to another replay review. After looking at the shot during the quarter break, referees determined that it did not beat the shot-clock buzzer. So it's Storm 52, Washington 37.
Third Quarter: Storm 40, Washington 28
With Washington continuing to struggle offensively outside of a brief spurt with back-to-back three-pointers, we're seeing some frustration set in on the Mystics sidelines. Head Coach Trudi Lacey made a rare four-player substitution, bringing in the only player who did not see action in the first half(rookie Natalie Novosel). The four starters who were replaced than held an impromptu huddle on the bench to discuss what they were seeing.
Lacey also nearly drew a technical foul after she was upset about a no-call when a Washington player was stripped. Lacey came on the court to protest while the Storm was scoring at the other end, but escaped with a warning.
Return of the Dogs
Halftime: Storm 31, Washington 20
We enjoyed one of my favorite halftimes today - dog racing, as presented by the Seattle Flyball Club. When you get a dozen dogs on the court, the results are always unpredictable - and entertaining.
Storm Defense Dominates First Half
Halftime: Storm 31, Washington 20
The 20 points scored by the Mystics in the first half are the fewest allowed by the Storm in any half of basketball this season. Here's how poorly Washington shot (and how well the Storm shot) - even though the Mystics had 11 more shot attempts than the Storm, they still made three fewer field goals. Washington is making just 26.5 percent of its shots and has been little better from three (1-of-6) or even the free throw line (1-of-5). The Storm is taking away easy opportunities and the Mystics have had difficulty creating good looks out of their offense.
Sue Bird has led the Storm offense with 10 points, knocking down a pair of three-pointers. She's also pulled down four rebounds. If she had a few more assists (she's got two), Bird might be threatening a triple-double. Camille Little scored six points and Tina Thompson added five off the bench.
Dunlap Sidelined Again
Second Quarter: Storm 23, Washington 18
Storm forward Victoria Dunlap is missing her second consecutive game after sustaining a concussion in practice earlier this week. A checkup with team doctor Dr. Jordan Chun did not indicate any additional cause for concern, but Dunlap is not yet ready to return to the court.
"She's making progress, but with concussions you sort of go at your own pace," said Storm head Coach Brian Agler. "Sometimes you respond quicker than others. She did about a 30-minute workout today and started getting headaches again."
By the way, that score is not a typo. The Storm's score was adjusted at the last timeout after replay review determined that a Katie Smith basket originally called a three was actually a two.
A-Rob Gets Ovation
Second Quarter: Storm 24, Washington 16
Midway through the second quarter, former Storm center Ashley Robinson checked in for her first appearance at KeyArena since being traded to Washington in February. Robinson got a nice ovation from the Storm fans who came to love her during her five-plus seasons in Seattle, with about half the crowd standing and everyone cheering.
The Storm has doubled its lead to eight points and continues to force the Mystics to miss shots. Washington is down to 25.0 percent from the field. The offensive glass is keeping the Mystics in the game. They've secured seven of their 21 misses. To counter that, Brian Agler went briefly to a big lineup with centers Ewelina Kobryn and Ann Wauters on the floor together.
Storm Clamps Down on Defense
End First Quarter: Storm 15, Washington 11
The Storm's defense during the second half of the first quarter was outstanding. The Mystics went more than four and a half minutes without a field goal during a 9-0 Storm run and had just two baskets after Brian Agler's early timeout. Overall, Washington shot 33.3 percent from the field. The Storm is at a healthy 50 percent.
First Quarter: Storm 13, Washington 9
Well, so much for the Storm struggling to score. After Head Coach Brian Agler took a timeout, the team has exploded for an 11-2 run to take a four-point lead. Sue Bird has a three-pointer and two free throws and the Storm also got a nice drive by Camille Little and excellent ball movement to set up a Tina Thompson jumper in the paint. With the crowd getting fired up, Trudi Lacey stopped the action with a timeout.
Slow Start for Storm Offense
First Quarter: Washington 7, Storm 2
A bit of a familiar start to this game. Just like Friday night, the Storm has had a tough time generating points early in the game. Ann Wauters got the team on the board with a nice post move, but overall Seattle is 1-of-4 from the field with a turnover. Against San Antonio, the Storm was able to stay within striking distance thanks to tough defense. So far, the Mystics have had some success scoring the basketball, largely thanks to Matee Ajavon. The Rutgers guard has made a three and a pull-up jumper for five early points.
Smith Stepping Up
Kudos to David Siegel of Dishin' N Swishin' podcast for pointing out an interesting stat on Twitter after Friday's game: With that win, the Storm is now 3-1 when Katie Smith plays at least 30 minutes. That's a testament to the value of Smith's play. She's been shooting the ball well from beyond the arc and contributing at both ends of the floor.
"She brings more to the table than just statistics," said Storm Head Coach Brian Agler. "I think her defensive presence, her versatility defensively is really important to us."
Smith, the all-time leading scorer in American women's professional basketball history, is on the verge of a lesser milestone. Her next rebound will be the 1,250th of her career.
Two days after the Storm's win over San Antonio, we're right back at KeyArena to wrap up Pride Weekend by facing the Washington Mystics. Seattle Center was packed for the Pride Festival this afternoon and some fans are making their way to the Key for this game, with a special 4 p.m. start time. On the court, the Storm is going for a fourth consecutive victory tonight in the finale of a brief three-game homestand before facing these same Mystics in D.C. on Tuesday night. Stay with us all early evening long for the latest.