It was evident in every pass: the Storm wanted this win.
Seattle zipped passes to each other with precision in the fourth quarter, whipping Tulsa all over the KeyArena court until the young Shock left a player open for a bucket or committed a foul. Camille Little scored the two biggest baskets with under two minutes left, helping Seattle steal a 74-68 win Sunday.
“We were hungry for it,” said Little, who scored 14 of her 16 points in the second half.
Storm guard Tanisha Wright provided the needed defensive stops with less than a minute in the game to seal the victory. With Seattle up by six points, Wright forced Shock guard Skylar Diggins into a turnover and seconds later drew an offensive charge against the second-year player.
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Diggins fouled out with 10.4 seconds left, leading Tulsa with 23 points.
With the win, Seattle (12-20) continues its playoff push.
It joins Tulsa (12-20), L.A. (14-17) and San Antonio (14-18) in competing for the last two postseason slots in the Western Conference. The Storm has two games remaining, against Los Angeles (Friday) and Phoenix (Sunday).
Seattle’s win over Tulsa tied the season series at 2-2. The Storm won the tiebreaker against the Stars 3-1 with a win at KeyArena last week.
“We know that we have no room for error,” said guard Sue Bird, who led the Storm with 22 points. “Even beyond that, we have to hope another team loses as well. So in a way there’s not really any pressure. We just go out there and play.”
The Storm used a ferocious third quarter to pull back from a 13-point opening-half deficit.
Little and Crystal Langhorne willed their way to the hoop during a 17-5 run that raised the noise decibel level a notch with every made basket. The inside players had nine points each in the third quarter and Seattle was down 54-53 headed into the fourth.
The Storm opened the final 10 minutes on a 5-0 spurt. Bird scored the go-ahead points off two free throws with 8:39 remaining.
“This has been the problem all year — we have to finish games,” said Diggins, whose Shock has lost 12 games by six points or fewer this season. “They have a strong veteran core there that did their job.”
After starting the season at 5-8, the Storm was supposed to have an advantage by playing eight of its final 10 games at home to possibly breeze its way into a WNBA-record 11th postseason appearance. Instead the Storm struggled, wading through a seven-game losing streak before winning its past three — the first winning streak of the season.
“When you play this hard and you feel like you deserve to win it feels good to be able to reward yourself,” said Wright, who recorded her 1,000th assist in the first half. She finished with six in the game.
“And sometimes you need to be able to see you win in order for that to catch fire and continue to win,” Wright added. “And we need the wins.”
• The Storm signed center Waltiea Rolle to a contract through the remainder of the season.