ATLANTA – The road-weary Storm continued its early-season slide down the standings after an 80-69 loss to Atlanta on Friday night.
Crystal Langhorne dominated the paint, with 21 points and 11 rebounds, but Atlanta’s balanced scoring proved to be the deciding factor.
This latest setback for Seattle (1-5) concludes a five-game cross-country trip in which the Storm went 1-4.
Atlanta’s Tiffany Hayes scored a season-high 20 points and Angel McCoughtry had 18 points and eight assists.
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Erika de Souza and Sancho Lyttle finished with 14 points and 13 points, respectively.
After going down 20-16 in the first quarter, things looked promising for Seattle after rallying for a 36-35 lead at halftime. Langhorne had 14 points and the team was on fire, hitting 55 percent from three-point range.
And the Storm came out blazing to start the third quarter, taking a 51-45 lead.
Atlanta regrouped with a collapsing defense that cut off the passing lanes to Langhorne in the post. This alignment created turnovers with scoring opportunities on the other end, and the Dream (3-2) closed the third quarter on a 14-2 run to take a 59-53 lead.
“The game got away from us late in the third quarter. We had a series of turnovers, missed shots and missed free throws. These are areas where we need improvement,” said Seattle coach Brian Agler. “We can’t be in a state of making excuses. We have to focus on things to get better and prepare for a game on Sunday versus Tulsa. We’re a veteran-laden team, and we’ll stay on an even keel.”
In the fourth quarter, Seattle’s miscues continued to pile up and Atlanta capitalized on the errors. Seattle battled back to tie the score at 61 with 6:20 remaining, but went cold down the stretch and was outscored 19-8.
“I don’t think fatigue played a factor in this game. We didn’t make plays at the end, and Atlanta did,” said Langhorne, who was limited to seven points in the second half. “We can’t think too much about this loss. We just have to refocus and expect to play better.”
Temeka Johnson had a quality outing off the bench, netting 13 points with four assists. Seattle’s backcourt of Sue Bird and Tanisha Wright struggled to produce offensively, with a combined five points and 10 assists while tallying four turnovers.
“All teams go through road trips,” Bird said. “I wouldn’t say it’s that. I just think we haven’t been closing out games. … In some of these games, it’s a mindset.”
Seattle limited Atlanta’s bench scoring, outscoring the Dream 32-4, led by Johnson’s 13, and Shekinna Stricklen and Noelle Quinn’s six apiece.
The Storm returns home after the journey that saw it log more than 10,220 miles round trip.
The Associated Press and team reports contributed to this report.