The WNBA Seattle Storm and Connecticut Sun had a game of runs as they each fought for the win in their game on July 12 at KeyArena.
In the end it would be the Sun taking the 83-79 win behind a 21-point season high performance from former Storm player Shekinna Stricklen who came out blazing behind the three-point line making a career high seven shots.
“Some teams don’t leave me and some teams do,” said Stricklen. “I felt they were leaving me and my teammates were finding me and they were setting good screens also and they were looking for me. It was great.”
And did it make it her feel better that it was against her former team?
“Make it so much better,” said Stricklen. “I can’t even lie, it makes it so much better. It just felt good.”
The Storm (8-10) came into the contest off a big win over WNBA defending champion Los Angeles Sparks last Saturday and hoped to use the momentum to keep moving forward.
It turned into a game of quarters for the teams as each used runs and aggressive offense to gain an advantage.
The first quarter belonged to Connecticut as they lead throughout behind six points from Stricklen off two three point shots and nine points from 2017 All-Star starter center Jonquel Jones to end the quarter ahead 25-15.
The second quarter was all Seattle as they set the hoop on fire shooting 80% going 12 of 15 from the field and hitting five of six three-point shots for an 83.3% rate. The shots totaled 33 points for a franchise record for points in the second quarter.
Storm forward Breanna Stewart went double digits in the second alone putting in 12 points and Seattle had the lead into halftime 48-44 after shooting 63.3 percent for the first half, their best in 2017.
The teams began trading baskets to start the third quarter before the Sun took the lead outscoring the Storm 21-15 for a two-point lead.
The final quarter found Connecticut taking up to a seven point lead before the Storm reeled them back in.
As the seconds ticked away Seattle found themselves down by two with 15.7 seconds left.
The Storm took a time-out to put together the play they wanted to tie the game. The plan, according to Seattle head coach Jenny Boucek, played out just as they wanted with Stewart, 6’4” paired against 5’8’ Sun guard Courtney Williams just feet from the basket.
But as Stewart went up for the shot, Williams planted and the whistle blew for an offensive foul on Stewart who looked at the referee in disbelief.
“You trying to get me fined?” said Boucek with a bit of sly smile when asked about the call.
It’s not rare for teams to point to a play as pivotal to a game and for Boucek the play set up exactly as they wanted but she felt the play was “taken out of the basketball players hands.”
“You have Stewie whose one of the best players in the world at the rim with a small guard on her,” said Boucek. “The only thing the guard had left to do was to try to flop and get a call and it worked. We’re down one, we go up one with that or maybe even two because of a three-point play but instead were playing from behind.”
Connecticut (11-7) made two free throws to go up by four and Stewart made one last try for a three-point shot but it didn’t fall and the Sun had their fifth win in a row.
Stewart ended the game with 22 points, her fifth game in a row over 20 and 10th this season. Bird, who was just named to the 2017 All-Star starting line-up added 15 points and seven assists. Guard Jewell Loyd added 17 points and six assists and center Crystal Langhorne went five for five from the floor to end up with 12 points.
Besides Stricklen’s 21, Jones ended the game with 14 points and 12 rebounds. The Sun got double digits from the rest of their starting line-up as well with forward Alyssa Thomas putting in 13 points, Williams with 10 and guard Jasmine Thomas with 15.
The outcome was another disappointing close game loss for the Storm this season but even more frustrating is losing them at home.
“We’re not happy that we lost,” said Bird. “They’re a really good team but it’s our home court and we have to play better. We’ve got to start getting these wins.”
Seattle’s next chance for a win at home will be at 6 p.m. on Saturday, July 15 against the Atlanta Dream at KeyArena.