Wright leads Storm past Stars
Tanisha Wright scored 15 points and the Seattle Storm never trailed, holding off San Antonio’s late rally in a 79-72 victory over the Stars on Friday night.
Camille Little scored 13 points, Temeka Johnson added 11 and Shekinna Stricklen and Crystal Langhorne had 10 each for the Storm (5-7).
“We’ve got new people this year and we’re starting to figure out how to play them,” Seattle coach Brian Agler said.
The Storm are 5-4 since starting the season 0-3 and would have been 6-3 if not for a late collapse Wednesday at Indiana that resulted in a 76-68 loss.
Seattle was on the verge of another four-quarter fall against the Stars.
San Antonio opened the final quarter on an 11-0 run to pull to 65-59 with 5 minutes remaining.
The Stars were shooting 36 percent from the field through the first three quarters, but shot 56 percent in the fourth and were 8 for 9 on free throws in the quarter.
“The same thing we started doing tonight we did Wednesday,” Agler said. “We put them on the free-throw line late in the game. We couldn’t keep Indiana off the free-throw line and the same thing was starting to happen here in the fourth quarter. So, I was very concerned about it.”
Wright hit a pair of free throws with 4:18 remaining to end the drought and help quell the rally.
San Antonio outscored Seattle 28-16 in the fourth quarter, but could not complete the rally after trailing by as many as 22 points.
“That’s on me,” Stars coach Dan Hughes said. “Their coach should have them better prepared for that first half that we saw. Second half we started to escalate to what we wanted to do. I just did a lousy job getting them ready for this basketball game.”
Danielle Adams had 18 points, Danielle Robinson added 14 and Sophia Young-Malcolm 12 for San Antonio (4-6), which has lost four of five.
Storm point guard Sue Bird helped establish the offense early, picking up three assists on the team’s first five baskets. She finished with four assists.
“We had a really nice flow going,” Bird said. “We didn’t have much time to prepare, but we just went out there and played. It’s actually been a continuation of our last couple of games.”
Seattle was shooting 67 percent with 8 minutes remaining in the first half. The Storm started 4 for 7 on 3-pointers before missing 8 of their last 9 attempts.
Stricklen’s 20-foot jumper with 3:32 left in the third quarter gave Seattle its largest lead at 56-34.
San Antonio, which was shooting 38 percent on 3-pointers entering the game, shot 3 for 18 from long range in dropping their third straight at home.
“Our offense comes from our defense,” Robinson said. “I think that is where we are struggling. We can miss shots all day, but if they are making shots, it’s not helping us because we are not defending or scoring. If we need to do one or the other, we need to defend.”
The Stars scored just three points over 4 minutes bridging the first and second quarters, falling behind 31-15 on Stricklen’s layup with 6:20 remaining.
Becky Hammon’s 3-pointer ended the drought and sparked the interior game, as they went on a 14-4 run. It was one of the few times San Antonio had a sustained offense.
“That’s where our identity lies, that’s where that’s where our focus is all the time - on defense,” Bird said. So when our offense is clicking, it’s even better for us. We can get a 20-poitn lead, even thought htat hasn’t happened that much this year.”
Stars rookie Kayla McBride was 2 for 10 after going 3 for 17 in San Antonio’s previous game, a loss to Phoenix in double overtime on June 7.
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