By Aaron Lommers Herald Writer
SEATTLE — The Seattle Storm are running out of opportunities to turn their season around.
The Storm suffered yet another loss on Tuesday, falling 86-63 to Connecticut at KeyArena.
At 9-15 with 10 games to play in the regular season, the Storm are facing an uphill battle to qualify for the postseason for a WNBA-record 11th consecutive season. Before the Los Angeles Sparks’ game against Indiana on Tuesday, the Storm trailed Los Angeles, which owns the regular-season tiebreaker over Seattle, by two games for the fourth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference.
“I don’t think today’s the end of the world,” Storm point guard Sue Bird said. “We’re really not helping ourselves when it comes to the playoffs. Looking down the road, I know we only have 10 games left while other teams have 14 or 15. We’re not in the best situation. The worst is we’re continually not helping ourselves, so that’s disappointing.”
The offenses for both teams came out firing in the first quarter. The Sun made six of their first seven shots and built a 12-6 lead, but the Storm shot well themselves. Seattle kept the score close throughout the quarter and even took the lead briefly twice, both times on 3-pointers by Bird. Connecticut reclaimed the lead with 1:30 remaining in the quarter with a Kelsey Bone 3-point play and led 26-22 after the opening stanza.
The Sun fell behind for a total of 43 seconds in the game’s first 10 minutes — they never trailed again.
“These games are tough,” Bird said. “They’re not easy to experience. They’re not easy after the fact. It’s definitely disappointing to go out there and lose by the margins that we’ve lost by the last two games.”
The Storm lost 77-60 to Minnesota on Sunday in Minneapolis.
It’s not been hard to pinpoint the Storm’s struggles. In most of their double-digit losses this season, the Storm have seen the game slip away with spurts of poor play. Tuesday’s game came down to a four-minute stretch at the beginning of the second quarter, where the Sun went on an 8-0 run, and the final two minutes of the third quarter, when Connecticut had an 8-2 run.
“It comes down to, usually, a certain period of time,” Bird said. “It could be four or five minutes where we let games get away from us. Once you’re down 20 it’s not impossible to come back, but you make it very difficult for yourself.”
Seattle struggled defensively to stop second-year guard Alex Bentley in the first half while Bone and rookie forward Chiney Ogwumike dominated the final two quarters.
Bentley scored 16 of her 20 points before halftime. Ogwumike, the No. 1 overall draft pick in the 2014 draft, scored 10 of her 14 and Bone had 11 of her 16 in the second half. Ogwumike also finished with 10 rebounds helping the Sun to a 41-24 rebounding advantage for the game.
“Offensively, they (the Sun) moved the ball well and got the ball inside,” Bird said. “Those are high-percentage shots. They’re layups. … They played well on defense and we couldn’t see to get into a flow and get things going, so I think tonight both sides of the ball weren’t great for us.”
The Storm’s difficult schedule that included playing 10 of their first 13 games on the road hasn’t helped establish any kind of rhythm.
“We have historically been a tenacious defensive team,” Agler said. “To get to that point, you have to have a lot of pride in it and people have to take on a lot of responsibilities. You’ve got to hold each other accountable. To do all that, you have to have the ability to practice and get in reps over and over and over and over. We haven’t had that and I think we’re seeing that play out on the floor.
“It’s important for us to get consecutive stops and hold people down and that didn’t happen today very often,” Agler said.
The Storm is off the next two days, and the league takes a break this weekend for the All-Star game in Phoenix. Seattle’s season resumes next Tuesday at KeyArena against the Phoenix Mercury.
Aaron Lommers covers the Seattle Storm for The Herald. Follow him on Twitter at @aaronlommers and contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.