The Seattle Storm delivered an inspired defensive performance Friday against the visiting San Antonio Stars, as they claimed an 83-69 victory in front of WNBA president Laurel Richie and 5,676 fans in Key Arena.
Despite having only nine players suited up, the Storm came out in attack mode taking advantage of ice-cold early shooting from the Stars who hit just one of their first five field goal attempts.
The Stars would find their stroke midway through the period as they took advantage of sloppy Seattle passing to cause four lead changes and a tie before the Storm found their range from deep and went on a 10-0 run to finish the first with a 25-16 lead.
Seattle continued their solid play in the second behind the inspired defensive play of Jenna O'Hea and Alysha Clark. The two Seattle wing players made their presence known on as each pulled down three rebounds in the half and deflected several Stars entry passes preventing San Antonio from going on a lasting run.
The Stars would find an offensive rhythm in the second, but were unable to effectively stop the Seattle attack allowing Crystal Langhorne to score 12 of her 22 points in the half. Sue Bird would also prove problematic for the Stars defense as she put up 10 points and four of her five assists before halftime.
"We played San Antonio three times already now." Langhorne explained after the win. "I felt like we had a feel for how they were going to play. We just really wanted to be aggressive."
For the quarter, San Antonio would outscore Seattle by a single point, 18-17 as the Storm took a 42-34 lead into the half.
Seattle came out strong in the third, again led by the continued defensive efforts of O'Hea and Clark.
O'Hea would score the highlight of the game after leaking out on a break, she would receive a spectacularly delivered outlet pass from Angel Goodrich and manage to score an acrobatic layup and go to the line where she would complete the three-point play.
San Antonio would attempt to hang around as Seattle continued to suffer from poor passing, but the Stars could not catch a break. Right before the buzzer sounded, Bird would air ball a jump shot which fell right into the hands of Jewell Loyd who scored a reverse, tip-in layup at the buzzer to give Seattle a 59-47 lead heading into the final stanza.
"In the third quarter, we missed a lot of shots and it was hard for us to score." Commented Sophia Young-Malcolm on the Stars third quarter performance. "Give them credit – I thought [the Storm] played well."
In the fourth the Stars shooting woes continued. The usually lethal scoring of Kayla Mcbride never materialized as she would finish the game hitting just 3-14 from the floor.
"Quite honestly, we haven’t played a lot of [good basketball] this year for various reasons." Said disappointed Stars head coach Dan Hughes. "We’ll keep seeking that. It might involve younger players, but it also might involve us just trying to find a group that plays well together."
Despite a valiant effort from Young-Malcolm, the Storm, anchored by their dominant 37-27 rebounding advantage, would maintain a substantial lead throughout the final ten minutes to secure their eighth victory of the season.
Seattle was led by the spectacular play of Langhorne who finished with game highs of 22 points and 10 rebounds. Also reaching double figures for the Storm were O'Hea (11 points, six rebounds), Markeisha Gatling (11), Clark (10 points, five rebounds) and Bird (10 points and a game-high five assists).
San Antonio would be led by the 18 of Young-Malcolm, the 13 points of Jia Perkins and the 11 of Alex Montgomery in the losing effort