A second consecutive KeyArena crowd of 15,000-plus is expected Tuesday for Game 2 of the WNBA Finals between Seattle and Atlanta. But the Storm must keep its emotions under control.
Blame KeyArena and amped-up Storm fans for the quick three fouls Swin Cash received in Game 1 of the WNBA Finals.
The Storm placed white rally towels on the lower-bowl seats and fans whipped them with more vigor than a chef making meringue. The sight stirred something in Cash, a Pittsburgh Steelers die-hard.
“When they started waving those flags, it reminded me of Heinz Field,” said Cash, a native of McKeesport, Pa. “We have the terrible towel, the yellow one. When you see that going, it’s such an emotional thing where you get into the game and get going.”
Seattle, which won the Finals opener against Atlanta, will place a new batch of towels for Game 2 of the best-of-five series Tuesday at KeyArena. Another crowd of about 15,000 is anticipated, but the Storm doesn’t envision a repeat of the opener.
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Players said the 79-77 victory wasn’t their best performance. The Storm committed 18 turnovers and missed defensive assignments. The sloppy execution forced point guard Sue Bird to win the game late, breaking a tie with a picturesque jumper with 2.6 seconds left.
“It was one of those games where I was really indecisive about everything I was doing,” said Storm guard Tanisha Wright, who committed five turnovers while Cash had four. “I’ll be more focused. I don’t think I did anything outside of myself, it was just the decision-making at the end of what I was doing wasn’t timely. But it isn’t anything I’m going to stress about.”
The matchup wasn’t characteristic of either team. In addition to Cash’s foul trouble, Dream All-Star Angel McCoughtry had three fouls in the opening half. And Seattle’s defense held Atlanta below its 91.8 playoff scoring average.
Dream coach Marynell Meadors wasn’t pleased with her team’s rebounding, where Atlanta trailed Seattle 36-34. Storm coach Brian Agler expects the Dream to do better on the boards, play more up-tempo and be aggressive to draw fouls.
The Storm, which was knocked out of the opening round of postseason the past five years, is two wins from its first championship since 2004. If it happened in Atlanta, the rally towel whip will be the last memory of KeyArena this season.
“I really don’t want to get nostalgic with it,” said Bird, whose team is 20-0 at home. “I just want to come out and play. Game 2 is going to be really, really important for the series as a whole. I expect them to be loose, almost carefree. That’s how I would be if I was going onto somebody’s home court.”
Jackson voted all-league
Storm forward Lauren Jackson picked up another postseason honor, voted to the WNBA’s all-league first team by a national panel of 39 media members. The three-time MVP led all vote-getters with 195 points. Jackson is joined by New York guard Cappie Pondexter (193), Indiana forward Tamika Catchings (191), Phoenix guard Diana Taurasi (185) and Chicago center Sylvia Fowles (125).
Seattle point guard Sue Bird was named to the second team. She received 123 votes while McCoughtry followed with 119. Washington forward Crystal Langhorne (111), Connecticut center Tina Charles (86), and Indiana guard Katie Douglas (30) rounded out the team.
“Obviously there are a lot of good players in this league,” Agler said. “But I’m disappointed for (Sue) because in the three years that I’ve been here, she’s been exceptional.”
• Storm reserve Abby Bishop was taken to a hospital after suffering an elbow to the head from one of the team’s practice players Monday. She was diagnosed with a concussion and listed as day-to-day.
• Jackson was called for a technical foul with 1:45 remaining in Game 1, officials believing there was contact with a Dream player after she committed a foul. The call was rescinded Monday, giving Jackson two technical fouls in the postseason. She would be suspended after the fourth.
Jayda Evans: 206-464-2067