The Seattle Storm snapped a five-game losing streak by defeating their long-time archival the LA Sparks 68-61 on Wednesday afternoon, in front of an announced sellout crowd of 9,686 on kids day at Key Arena.
The matchup, the third of the season between the franchises who won 40% of the league championships last decade, has become a meeting of struggling teams. Seattle entered Wednesday with a 3-11 record while LA stood at 2-10. Never the less, the contest would be an exciting one.
The first quarter saw both teams shooting lights out from the floor, with the Sparks dominating in the paint behind the low post performance of Nneka Ogwumike, who scored eight points and dished out four assists in the opening period. Ogwumike's early dominance allowed LA to build a 25-17 lead going into the second quarter.
Not content to let the game get away from them, Seattle battled back, outscoring the Sparks 18-12 in the second thanks in large part to the inspired play of Ramu Tokashiki and Jewell Loyd.
Tokashiki, who earned her second start of the season, scored six of her 10 points in the quarter. Meanwhile, Loyd seemed to be in all places at all times, finishing the first half with nine of her game-high 13 points to go along with four assists, three rebounds, a steal and a block.
"(Tokashiki and Loyd) both play at a speed that can go to another level," said Storm coach Jenny Boucek. "I think when they're in a game together, they feed off each other's energy, especially their speed down the floor."
The third quarter belonged to the Storm as the team poured in 21 points with seven different players scoring during the period.
The fourth quarter, by contrast, was a stalemate as both teams struggled to score from the field. In the end, Seattle would outscore the Sparks 12-11 in the period to secure the victory.
"We didn't shoot the ball well in the second half and we turned the ball over," explained Sparks head coach Brian Agler, whose team finished with 21 turnovers. "Seattle really did a good job of attacking us, putting us in pick-and-rolls and we didn't play quite as well."
Both the Storm and the Sparks had three players reach double figures. Seattle receiving 13 from Loyd, 12 from Crystal Langhorne to go along with a game-high tying seven rebounds, and 10 from Tokashiki. Renee Montgomery and Sue Bird each scored nine points with Bird adding five assists.
Los Angeles was led by the 12 points and seven rebounds of Ogwumike, the 11 points and six assists of Temeka Johnson and the 10 points of Kristi Toliver. Also of note was Johnson reaching 300 career steals during the contest.
With the win, Seattle now stands at 4-11 on the year and is inexplicably in possession of the fourth and final playoff spot in the West.