“I think in terms of frustration level and the overall vibe, that was probably the low point at San Antonio,” Sue Bird said of Seattle’s 13-point loss on June 9. “I think collectively, we just kind of let that one go in terms of effort. But we’ve been on the up and up ever since.”
That upward trend continued Friday night when the Storm won their third consecutive WNBA game by beating San Antonio 82-76.
Tanisha Wright led Seattle with a season-high 20 points, including eight fourth-quarter free throws, and added seven assists and five rebounds.
Seattle ran plays to get Wright the ball down the stretch, knowing San Antonio would have to foul.
Wright kept making free throws, including one that initially appeared off before Wright shouted at it and it bounced in. “Sometimes, you got to yell at it, talk to it,” she said.
Wright’s work late in the fourth quarter, coupled with a 15-0 run midway through the game, helped Seattle fend off San Antonio. Wright’s steal and layup with 6.9 seconds remaining sealed the win for Seattle (4-7).
Bird scored 10 points and hit two free throws with 17.5 seconds remaining. Katie Smith scored 13 points, Camille Little 12 and Tina Thompson 12 for Seattle.
“We were sharing the ball,” Storm coach Brian Agler said. “Good to see our whole team being aggressive on the offensive end.”
Jia Perkins scored 20 points to lead San Antonio (4-5).
San Antonio leading scorer Sophia Young scored 16 points, despite starting the game 0-for-8 from the field. Young finished 2-for-11, but made all 12 of her free-throw attempts. Becky Hammon added 14 points.
Smith hit a 3-pointer with 1:46 remaining to put Seattle in front 69-62. Consecutive 3-pointers by Perkins kept San Antonio close late in the fourth.
“I thought we did a good job of handling their runs and coming back, we just couldn’t get control of the game,” San Antonio coach Dan Hughes said.
Bird made a wide-open 3-pointer and Ann Wauters followed with a left-handed layup in the post to increase Seattle’s lead to 38-28 just 1:20 into the third quarter. San Antonio called timeout to try and stem the push. It didn’t work.
Wright passed to Little for a layup and Smith hit a corner jumper to cap a 15-0 run and vault Seattle to a 41-28 lead.
“We had a hard time containing (Wright),” Hughes said. “She got in the lane on us and not only finished, but created plays. She was the player that kind of broke our back.”
San Antonio’s Shameka Christon was fouled by Wright while shooting a 3-pointer, and her three free throws finally snapped the run. The Stars rallied to get within two following two free throws from Young midway through the quarter and were down just five at the end of the third.
The Storm and Wright pushed back in the second quarter after a dismal first. Wright scored in the lane with a minute left in the quarter to push Seattle in front for the first time at 30-28. Another basket from Wright following a long outlet pass put Seattle up 32-28 going into the half. Wright picked up her second foul just before halftime when she was called for a charge.
Smith hit a 3-pointer and a long two from the top of the key to close the gap with San Antonio in the second quarter, during which Seattle outscored the Silver Stars 21-11.
San Antonio led 17-11 after the first quarter because of Perkins. She scored 10 points, surpassing her season average of 8.9, after checking in midway through the quarter. Perkins went 4-for-5 in the quarter, including 2-for-3 from 3-point range.
The Storm struggled in the first. Seattle shot 27.8 percent from the field, missing numerous open shots. Six San Antonio turnovers helped keep Seattle in the game during the opening quarter.
Former Storm players Ashley Robinson and Svetlana Abrosimova were in attendance. Robinson plays for the Washington Mystics, who are in Seattle to play the Storm on Sunday.
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