Griner and the Mercury spoil the Storm’s 2018 WNBA opener

Griner and the Mercury spoil the Storm’s 2018 WNBA opener

Seattle’s second-half rally falls short in an 87-82 defeat

Staff and wire reports

SEATTLE — A slow start doomed the Seattle Storm in their WNBA season opener.

Seattle fell behind by 10 points in the first half and despite a second-half rally never fully recovered an 87-82 loss to the Phoenix Mercury on Sunday night at KeyArena.

“I didn’t feel like we got out of the gate well,” Seattle coach Dan Hughes said. “That’s my responsibility, especially playing a team that’s (already) played a game.”

Brittney Griner had 29 points and 10 rebounds to help Phoenix hold off the Storm. Griner, who led the WNBA in scoring and blocks per game last season, shot 10-for-16 from the field and added four assists and three blocks.

“Give Griner credit,” Hughes said. “If you’re looking at the difference maker in the game from their standpoint, it was (Griner). … We were in the game, but Griner created some separation and had a big impact on the game.”

Briann January finished with 15 points and six assists For Phoenix. Diana Taurasi and DeWanna Bonner scored 12 points apiece for the Mercury (2-0).

Sue Bird hit a jumper with 1:21 to play and rookie Jordin Canada had a steal and a layup before Natasha Howard made a basket to cap a 6-0 run that pulled Seattle (0-1) within two points with 24.8 seconds remaining. After January’s free throw made it 83-80, Breanna Stewart answered with a layup, but Taurasi hit two foul shots to push the Mercury’s lead to three with 9.8 to play. The Storm committed a turnover on their next possession and Bonner hit two free throws to cap the scoring.

Bird said the Storm showed their character by battling back.

“For us to battle back and make it a game where we had a chance, that does say a lot about our resilience but I would have been surprised if we didn’t,” the veteran point guard said.

Stewart led Seattle with 22 points, 15 rebounds and three blocks. Howard added 14 points.

The two teams play again Wednesday in Phoenix.

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