In front of an Opening Night crowd of 8,749, Seattle fell to the visiting Los Angeles Sparks, 80-69. Despite all second-half comeback efforts by the Storm, Seattle never got closer than nine points down the stretch.
“That first group just really had a hard time getting it going,” said Storm head coach and general manager Brian Ager. “But I was really happy with how that second group played from the middle of the third quarter on. They played with a lot of energy and explosiveness out there but we’re in a situation where we’re learning a lot about ourselves right now.”
Seattle forward Jenna O’Hea, in her first game against her former team, led Seattle with 12 points off the bench. Also making her Seattle debut, forward Crystal Langhorne pulled down a game-high nine rebounds. Alysha Clark recorded a career-high four blocks.
“I think there were two players that really gave us a lot of energy and they were Alysha and Jenna in regards to how they competed,” said Agler. “They went after long rebounds and took the ball to the basket. Their activity defensively, it was good to see.”
Los Angeles took a 43-32 lead into the locker room at the break, and finished the game paced by reigning WNBA MVP Candace Parker’s 18 points and six rebounds. Alana Beard added 17 points and five assists.
The Seattle Storm saw another third quarter rally fall short on the back half of a back-to-back, falling 81-64 to host Phoenix Mercury. Camille Little, despite being held scoreless in the first quarter, erupted in the final three to finish with 14 points and seven rebounds.
“We had a hard time hitting shots and our defense really didn’t kick-in,” said associate head coach Jenny Boucek. “We’re a rhythm team defensively, and it took us some time to get our defense in rhythm. They have great offensive players, so if you’re relaxing – or not even relaxing, but if you’re really not dialed in and putting great pressure on them, they can shoot pretty much at every position and make you pay. It took us a little while to find that type of pressure.”
Phoenix led by as many as 22, but Seattle, known for its “blue collar” mentality, chipped away at the deficit, coming as close as nine points midway through the third. Poor shooting did not help Seattle, as the team finished just 21-of-62 (34 percent) from the floor, and 4-of-17 (24) from long range. Seattle more than doubled Phoenix’s attempts from the stripe, going 18-21 (86 percent) compared to the Mercury’s 8-of-10 (80 percent).
“Defensively, they scored way too many points,” said Little. “That’s not Storm Basketball at all and we have to find a way to collectively be a better defensive team, because that’s our stamp. At the end of the day, if we don’t score, the other team shouldn’t score either.”
Stringing together two impressive performances to open the season, forward Alysha Clark finished with eight points and four rebounds in 15 minutes of action.
Mercury center Brittney Griner scored a game-high 19 points, but was held relatively quiet on the boards, finishing with four. She recorded five blocks. DeWanna Bonner added 11 points.
Storm head coach and general manager Brian Agler was absent from the sideline as he attended his son’s graduation in Ohio. Seattle drops to 0-2 on the season, the second time in three years the Storm has opened the season on a 0-2 losing skid.