Seattle needed one more lockdown defender.
And she was seated on the bench in street clothes.
Storm guard Tanisha Wright missed her first start Thursday since 2012, due to a knee bruise. A four-time All-WNBA defensive team member, Wright was needed as Seattle managed late to regain the lead against San Antonio.
Instead, the Stars’ speedy guards led by Danielle Robinson were able to work around the Storm’s defense to get the needed buckets for an 87-82 win in overtime at KeyArena.
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“Tanisha Wright is one of the best players in our league … and most underrated for what (she) does for your team,” San Antonio coach Dan Hughes said.
Storm guard Sue Bird, who entered the game shooting a career-worst 25 percent from three-point range, nailed one from the top of the key to give Seattle a 70-68 lead with 44.8 seconds left in regulation. On defense, she hounded Robinson enough to help force a shot-clock violation.
San Antonio (6-6) opted to foul with 18.9 seconds left. Storm forward Nicole Powell made one of the two shots from the line.
Robinson found a way to capitalize, driving to the hoop and kicking the ball outside as the Storm defense collapsed. Stars forward Danielle Adams caught it and drained a three-pointer with 6.5 seconds left to force overtime with the score 71-71.
The score stayed tight in overtime but Robinson made six consecutive free throws in the final 30 seconds to seal the win. Robinson led five Stars players who finished in double-digit scoring, with 20 points and eight assists.
“We should have won in regulation,” said Bird, whose team rallied from 12 points down. “It was hard. Every single person in here had to make a play. To finally get that lead and really just have to make one more play … that’s where we lost the game. In overtime, they just played better.”
Powell was still grunting in frustration after the game about her missed free throw. She’s a career 88.4 percent shooter from the line.
“It’s horrible,” Powell said. “Those are the plays you’ve got to make. In this league, it’s so competitive, you’re going to have a lot of close games. Those are the small things — hit a free throw, get a defensive stop.”
Bird led Seattle with 23 points and nine assists. Her two in overtime helped her surpass 2,000 career assists. The historic pass was to forward Camille Little. But the bulk of Bird’s career assists were to three-time MVP Lauren Jackson, who’s missed the past two WNBA seasons due to injuries.
“The pick-and-pop with Lauren,” said Bird, “when I think of assists and my time here, that’s the first thing I think of (but) what I’ve tried to be throughout my career is consistent and dependable. These numbers speak to that more than anything.”
Bird, a 12-year veteran, is the only player in WNBA history to total 2,000 assists and 4,000 points. Bird is second to Ticha Penicheiro in all-time assists (2,599).
But it’ll be the defense Seattle (5-9) mulls over after Thursday’s loss.
Wright has had knee problems in the past, not playing overseas after the 2012 season to give her body an extended rest and avoid surgery. She’s listed as day-to-day.
“It’s frustrating not to have the whole package,” said Little, who finished with 20 points and nine rebounds. “Tanisha is a huge difference, for sure, but we don’t want to put it all on her. We should have picked up the slack.”
Jayda Evans: 206-464-2067
On Twitter @JaydaEvans