By Aaron Lommers Herald Writer
SEATTLE — With Diana Taurasi’s return this past Saturday after missing Phoenix’s previous 19 games, it was just a matter of time before the Mercury ended their franchise-record losing streak.
The Seattle Storm hoped to extend that skid to 11 on Thursday night, but thanks to DeWanna Bonner, Taurasi and rookie Samantha Prahalis, the Mercury defeated the Storm 75-68 in WNBA action. It was Seattle’s fourth loss in its past five home games.
The contest was tied 54-54 after three quarters, but the Mercury began the fourth period on a 13-2 run. From there the Storm had to play catch up and there just wasn’t enough time. Prahalis scored seven of her 16 points in the final period, including Phoenix’s last four points.
“They just told me to be aggressive,” Prahalis said. “I think I settled a couple of times with too many jump shots, so I was trying to get to the rim and be aggressive.”
Bonner finished with 24 points. Taurasi had 13 to go along with Prahalis’ 16.
“I just didn’t really see us have that defensive mindset that we traditionally had in the past,” Storm head coach Brian Agler said. “It’s disappointing to lose these home games because traditionally we’ve had a lot of success at home. If anything else, I hope we can find that and get that back into how we do things and our mentality and how we play.”
Storm point guard Sue Bird was visibly frustrated after the loss.
“I think we just had a bad game,” she said. “They had a good game we had a bad game. I really don’t know what else to say about it.”
The locker room, which usually is accessible to the media within 15 minutes of the final horn, was closed for an extended period after the game. What was discussed?
“That we had a bad game … and we need to figure it out quick because there are only nine games until the end of the season and that’s not a lot of time,” Bird said. “Now that we do have our full roster together, we can’t take our time to get better.”
The game marked just the second time this season the Storm has had all 11 players on their roster available, but they seemed to lack rhythm and appeared discombobulated on the offensive end.
Seattle shot just 23-for-67 (34.3 percent) for the game. The Storm also missed six of their 20 free-throw attempts. Camille Little led the Storm in scoring with 11 points, Tanisha Wright added 10, making them the only Storm players in double figures.
“Offensively we were kind of stagnant out there,” Bird said.
The Storm came into Thursday night’s contest with a 61/2 game lead over Phoenix and a six-game lead over Tulsa for the fourth and final playoff spot in the West. With Phoenix’s victory over Seattle and Tulsa’s win over Los Angeles, the lead is down to five games over Tulsa and 51/2 over Phoenix with just nine games to play.
“Just like I told our team, ‘We aren’t in the playoffs yet,’” Agler said. “We’ve got a lot of work to do to put ourselves in there.”
In a season of ups and down, Thursday’s loss was one of the lowest points for the Storm.
“I’m not sitting here thinking about every game and how I felt after every game,” Agler said. “But I can tell you this isn’t one of the high points.”
Aaron Lommers covers the Seattle Storm for The Herald. Follow him on twitter @aaronlommers and contact him at email@example.com.