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Big Rally Carries Storm Past Sky, 69-60

July 2, 2013

Same early-game scenario. Way different late-game outcome for the Seattle Storm.

Camille Little and Temeka Johnson each scored 16 points, and the Storm, after falling into a double-digit first-quarter deficit for the second straight outing, not only came back for a halftime lead, but pulled away after that to beat the Chicago Sky on Tuesday night, 69-60.

Tina Thompson bounced back from a string of three straight single-digit scoring performances to tally 10 points and grab 11 rebounds – her first double-double of the season. Shekinna Stricklen added 14 points off the bench, her second straight double-digit game and fifth of the season, all in a reserve role.

Seattle (5-6) halted a three-game losing streak and handed Chicago (7-4) its first homecourt loss of the season in Allstate Arena. The Storm are playing .500 on the road at 4-4.

Sky rookie Elena Delle Donne had 12 points and 11 rebounds, her first double-double. But the Storm made her work for those points, forcing Delle Donne into 3-of-13 shooting and keeping her seven points below her 19.3 average. Epiphanny Prince also managed just 12, well below her 18.7 average, and was limited to just 3 of 9 from the field by Seattle’s defense.

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The Storm return to the court on Saturday in Washington against the Mystics at 4 p.m. PDT. That will be the third stop of a four-game, 13-day road trip. The Storm went overtime to beat Washington on June 18 in KeyArena, 96-86.

On Sunday at Indiana, Seattle was down 17-4 in the first quarter, but roared back to take a 30-29 halftime lead before eventually going down, 71-63.

With Tuesday’s game tied at 7-7 after a putback by Little, the Storm went the final 7:03 of the first quarter without a point, missing their last 11 shots from the field. Chicago ran off 14 straight points to go up 21-7.

The Sky eventually took their largest lead of the night at 25-10 early in the second. But from there, it was all Seattle. The Storm finished that quarter on a 24-6 run in forging a 34-31 halftime edge. It was Tanisha Wright who pushed them ahead, tying it at 31-31 on a reverse lay-in off a feed from Johnson, then making it 32-31 by completing the traditional three-point play.

Except for an 18-second span midway through the third quarter, Seattle led the rest of the way. A pair of free throws by Prince put the Sky up 42-41 at the 5:14 mark. But Stricklen nailed a 3-pointer from the left of the lane on a pass from Little with 4:56 to go, making it 44-42. That started the Storm on a 13-3 run to close out the quarter and take a 54-45 lead into the fourth.

A 12-foot fadeaway by Little, two free throws by Johnson, a trey by Thompson, and a lay-in by Johnson pushed it to 63-47 with 6:19 left in the game, and the closest Chicago came after that was the final margin of nine.

From the time of that 25-10 deficit, Seattle outscored Chicago, 59-35.

Solid shooting in the second and third quarters helped the Storm take command. After a frigid opening quarter of just 16.7 percent (3 of 18) Seattle hit 53.3 percent in the second (8 of 15), and 46.7 percent in the third (7 of 15). During those same two periods, the defense limited Chicago to a combined 22.6 percent (7 of 31).

The Storm wound up at 37 percent for the game (23 of 63), but that included 7 of 19 from behind the arc. The Sky hit just 30 percent (20 of 67), and were at just 18 percent (4 of 22) on 3-pointers.

Seattle was able to keep Delle Donne and Prince under extra pressure all night because the Sky were without the services of Sylvia Fowles. She leads the league in rebounds at 12.2 per game and also averages 13.9 points, but was sidelined with a sprained ankle. Delle Donne has six games of 20 or more points, and Prince has three games of 20-plus.

This was the first time this season Seattle has won when scoring fewer than 75 points. But defensively, the Storm limited Chicago to its lowest total of the season (previous was 69), and 22 points below its average of 82.1.

The Storm have split four games against the WNBA’s three leading rookies. In addition to Delle Donne and the Sky, they also beat Brittney Griner and Phoenix on June 2, but have lost twice to Skylar Diggins and the Tulsa Shock.

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