The WNBA champion Seattle Storm ended their four-game road trip the way they started with a loss.
The Storm had back-to-back wins over the Indiana Fever and the Washington Mystics after losing their first game of this road trip to the Chicago Sky, their second loss to the Sky this season, but couldn’t overcome another player lost to injury and a strong Connecticut Sun offense that gave Seattle (5-4) an 81-67 loss.
“Yeah, I thought we kind of ran out of gas a little bit,” said interim Seattle head coach Gary Kloppenburg. “We were struggling to score and they got downhill on us and got a couple of easy ones and it got away. I thought we made a really good run to get back in the game in the third quarter, but at the end of the road trip we just ran out of gas.”
Going into league leading Connecticut (8-1) the Storm had to once again find a way to win by committee with guard Jordin Canada suffering a knee injury against Washington.
Canada was ruled out against the Sun and newest team member Blake Dietrich took her place in the starting line-up for her first career start. Dietrich’s play was a good sign considering that during her 23 minutes on the court the Storm held even with Connecticut.
Seattle had another strong performance from Natasha Howard who went for 20 points with eight boards in a game of runs it was Connecticut who put together the most and at the right time.
The Storm started slow and the Sun went on a 13-3 run to take the lead by 11 points after the first quarter.
Seattle began to get their road weary legs moving and behind the play of guards Shavonte Zellous and Sami Whitcomb the Storm answered with a 9-0 run at the start of the second quarter to pull within two.
But once again the Sun responded and with another run, this one 14-3, to take a double digit lead into the half.
Seattle went back to being Seattle and started with a strong defensive stance that produced buckets for a 12-0 run before Connecticut center Jonquel Jones hit a three ending a four minute scoring drought by the Sun.
The Storm’s Jewell Loyd netted 11 points including six in a row along with three steals in the third quarter and the Storm were within two.
But Connecticut came out with a strong offensive onslaught in the fourth quarter shooting 61.1 percent that produced an 18-5 run resulting in a game-high 17 point lead with a minute remaining.
The reason was not only a good Sun team but for Seattle it included an area they’ve had issues with this season.
“Our turnovers,” said Howard. “We kept turning the ball over and couldn’t get a stop. Also, rebounding and the little things that got us back in the game, kind of slipped away from us in the fourth quarter.”
Besides Howards fifth 20-plus point game of the season Zellous brought a season high 14 points off the bench while Loyd finished with 15 points.
The Sun was led by forward Alyssa Thomas with 20 points and three steals. Shekinna Stricklen was all about the three’s as the forward hit four from beyond the arch to add to her total of 16 points while Jones recorded her 30th double-double of her career and sixth of the season with 13 points and 11 rebounds while recording a season high six assists.
The Storm come home for a two-game homestand as they take on the Los Angeles Sparks for the first time during the regular season at 730 pm on Friday, June 21 at Angel of the Wind Arena.
Then Seattle plays their first game of many this season at Alaska Airlines Arena at the University of Washington when they play at 4 pm on Sunday, June 23 against the Indiana Fever.
It’s the start of a group of home games waiting for the Storm and the team’s excited to be in Washington to play more than one game at a time.
“It’s tough when you are on the road and you play the four hottest teams right now,” said Loyd. “I think overall we did a great job of fighting every game and for sure we can’t wait to get back home and play in front of our home crowd.”
They head out for their first game against the Las Vegas Aces and former University of Washington guard Kelsey Plum at 7 pm on Tuesday, June 25 at Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas before settling back in Washington for a six-game homestand.
The homestand includes two over Pride Weekend at 7pm on Friday, June 28 against the Chicago Sky and the Storm’s official Pride game at 4pm on Sunday, June 30 against the Phoenix Mercury. All games in this homestand will be played at Alaska Airlines Arena on the UW campus.